Background: Word retrieval deficits are a common, pervasive feature of aphasia. Semantic feature analysis (SFA) is a popular treatment technique for word retrieval impairment. Preliminary evidence of its use in small aphasia-group settings suggests improved word retrieval in discourse-based tasks with improvements in communicative informativeness (Antonucci, 2009; Falconer & Antonucci, 2012).
Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the training of SFA within discourse during a small (two-member) aphasia group treatment to ascertain if gains would be made in word retrieval abilities and communicative informativeness.
Method: Two female participants with chronic aphasia, aged seventy seven and sixty eight, participated weekly in group treatment for five consecutive weeks where stimuli were used to elicit increasingly naturalistic discourse. A multiple-baseline design was used and a case series analysis conducted. Baseline measures, treatment data and data from the six week follow-up (SWFU) session were analysed using the protocols developed by Nicholas and Brookshire (1993) and Mayer and Murray (2003).
Results: Both participants demonstrated certain modest gains in overall communicative informativeness but these were not maintained at the SWFU session. Gains in informativeness ranged from 12% to 13.4% for participants, which agree with improvements in other studies (Antonucci, 2009; Boyle & Coelho, 1995; Falconer & Antonucci, 2012). P2 (presented with anomic aphasia) performed better than P1 (presented with Broca’s aphasia and a component of apraxia of speech [AOS]) with regards to communicative informativeness (%CIUs) and had greater access to semantic knowledge (i.e. could access lexical forms at an improved rate).
Conclusion: The small group setting may offer advantages to facilitate communication skills and increase participation in everyday conversation. Further research is needed to identify benefits for individuals with differing aphasia types and severity, optimal intensity and frequency of group treatment and the role of peer support during group interaction.
Aphasia, stroke rehabilitation, word retrieval, semantic feature analysis, connected speech, discourse, group therapy, communicative informativeness, functional communication.