Providing Augmentative and Alternative Communication Treatment to Persons With Progressive Nonfluent Aphasia
Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) intervention offers people diagnosed with progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA) an opportunity to continue to communicate even as verbal expression declines. To date, there are no well-controlled studies reporting the effectiveness of AAC intervention with people who present with PNFA. Further, there is a pressing need for evidence about specific AAC intervention tools, techniques, and training protocols for persons with PNFA and their communication partners. We have engaged in research studies at the Oregon Health & Science University to quantify low-tech AAC supports for people with PNFA in highly controlled, as well as naturalistic, dyadic conversations. Preliminary results suggest that AAC provides strong lexical support for people with PNFA during conversation. We predict that training participants and their partners how to use personalized, low-tech communication boards will lead to reduced conversational scaffolding by partners and prolonged effective communication as the disease course progresses. Clinical implications and future directions of our research are discussed.