Two talks by Professor Pirkko Rautakoski

Professor Pirkko Rautakoski from Abo Akademi University in Turku, Finland, will be giving two talks on aphasia. Both events take place in Room G10, Chandler House.  These talks are not ticketed, just come along – all welcome!

Mon 24th June 2019, 2pm-5pm

Supporting the activity and participation of people with aphasia at a local level: “Communication Cottages.”

The goal of “consequences-focused approaches” in aphasia rehabilitation is to reduce the impact of aphasia on a person´s life. Aphasia often changes the social life of people with aphasia and reduces it compared to life before the stroke. The contacts with the immediate family most often remain the same but according to many studies, friends are seen less often than before the stroke. It is important to ensure that people with aphasia can regain their social life despite communication difficulties. Interventions to support the activity and participation of people with aphasia are needed.

The Finnish Brain Association (FBA) has carried out a project called “Communication Cottages”.  The goal of this project is to reduce the social isolation people with aphasia often experience and to increase their possibilities for participation.  “Communication Cottages” provide group activities for people with aphasia. The development of these activities began in 2006-2009 with five “Communication Cottage” groups and now there are already 42 groups in different municipalities in Finland, 36 for Finnish speaking people and 6 for Swedish speaking people. The groups are hosted by adult education centers at a local level in municipalities. These centers offer different kinds of courses for adult residents, ranging from language courses to woodwork, and now also “Communication cottage” activities for people with aphasia. The model and the activities of “Communication cottages” will be introduced in more detail in the presentation.

Tues 25th June 2019, 10am-1pm

Learning from communication partner training for aphasia in Finland.

It has been agreed that instead of regarding aphasia only as a language disorder it should be considered as an inclusive interaction problem on an individual level. The communication difficulties of people with aphasia change their everyday interactions with other people. They are not such active partners in conversations, and general participation in social interaction is reduced when compared to before the stroke. It is a common phenomenon that conversation with a person with aphasia includes non-verbal communication, as well as long repair sequences. The role of the non-aphasic communication partner in constructing these kinds of conversation is important. It has been noticed that many communication partners do not naturally find ways to support the communication of the person with aphasia, and they need guidance in their new role. On the other hand, conversation is a collaboration between two or more people. People with severe aphasia also need new methods to express themselves and guidance to begin to use them. These observations are starting points for different interventions where couples and communication partners receive guidance on how to strengthen their successful communication strategies, how to avoid less successful ones, and how the communication partner can facilitate and support the communication of his or her aphasic partner.

An intensive and mutual communication therapy for a couple with a partner with severe aphasia, called APPUTE, has been developed in Finland by speech and language therapist Arja Nykänen (Nykänen et al., 2013). The aim of the APPUTE method is to practise functional communication strategies using a structured programme under the close guidance of a speech and language therapist. Both the people with aphasia and their partners participate in the intervention and are active parties in the communication. They practise finding functional communication strategies to convey both everyday messages and more complicated ones. Both are also responsible for the situation and have their own roles in the success of the communication. The training programme consists of three different types of communication tasks arranged according to the level of difficulty. The aim of the presentation is to introduce the APPUTE method in more detail and report on its effectiveness.

Nykänen, A., Nyrkkö, H., Nykänen, M., Brunou, R., & Rautakoski, P. (2013). Communication therapy for people with aphasia and their partners (APPUTE). Aphasiology. 27, 1159–1179.

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