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What is functional communication? A theoretical framework for real-world communication applied to aphasia rehabilitation

Doedens, W. J. and Meteyard, L. (2022) What is functional communication? A theoretical framework for real-world communication applied to aphasia rehabilitation. Neuropsychology Review. ISSN 1573-6660

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1007/s11065-021-09531-2

Abstract/Summary

Aphasia is an impairment of language caused by acquired brain damage such as stroke or traumatic brain injury, that affects a person’s ability to communicate effectively. The aim of rehabilitation in aphasia is to improve everyday communication, improving an individual’s ability to function in their day-to-day life. For that reason, a thorough understanding of naturalistic communication and its underlying mechanisms is imperative. The field of aphasiology currently lacks an agreed, comprehensive, theoretically founded definition of communication. Instead, multiple disparate interpretations of functional communication are used. We argue that this makes it nearly impossible to validly and reliably assess a person’s communicative performance, to target this behaviour through therapy, and to measure improvements post-therapy. In this article we propose a structured, theoretical approach to defining the concept of functional communication. We argue for a view of communication as “situated language use”, borrowed from empirical psycholinguistic studies with non-brain damaged adults. This framework defines language use as: (1) interactive, (2) multimodal, and (3) contextual. Existing research on each component of the framework from non-brain damaged adults and people with aphasia is reviewed. The consequences of adopting this approach to assessment and therapy for aphasia rehabilitation are discussed. The aim of this article is to encourage a more systematic, comprehensive approach to the study and treatment of situated language use in aphasia.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Clinical Language Sciences
Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Language and Cognition
ID Code:102959
Publisher:Springer

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