Authors: Carlomagno S, Zulian N, Razzano C, De Mercurio I, Marini A
Title: Coverbal gestures in the recovery from severe fluent aphasia: a pilot study
Source: Journal of Communication Disorders 2013 46(1): 84-99
Year: 2013
Research Design: Single Case Design

This post hoc study investigated coverbal gesture patterns in two persons with chronic Wernicke's aphasia. They had both received therapy focusing on multimodal communication therapy, and their pre- and post-therapy verbal and gestural skills in face-to-face conversational interaction with their speech therapist were analysed by administering a partial barrier Referential Communication Task (RCT). The RCT sessions were reviewed in order to analyse: (a) participant coverbal gesture occurrence and types when in speaker role, (b) distribution of iconic gestures in the RCT communicative moves, (c) recognisable semantic content, and (d) the ways in which gestures were combined with empty or paraphasic speech. At post-therapy assessment only one participant showed improved communication skills in spite of his persistent language deficits. The improvement corresponded to changes on all gesturing measures, suggesting thereby that his communication relied more on gestural information. No measurable changes were observed for the non-responding participant-a finding indicating that the coverbal gesture measures used in this study might account for the different outcomes. These results point to the potential role of gestures in treatment aimed at fostering recovery from severe fluent aphasia. Moreover, this pattern of improvement runs contrary to a view of gestures used as a pure substitute for lexical items, in the communication of people with severe fluent aphasia. Learning outcomes: The readers will describe how to assess and interpret the patterns of coverbal gesturing in persons with fluent aphasia. They will also recognize the potential role of coverbal gestures in recovery from severe fluent aphasia.

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