Investigators at the Aphasia Research Centre, University of Queensland – together with colleagues elsewhere Australia – have reported research on how persons with aphasia (PWA) regard self-management, including how they view and employ technologies that facilitate self-management. The goals of this investigation were to: (1) refine our understanding of what, in actual practice, self-management means to individuals with aphasia; and (2) explore how technologies are currently used to support effective self-management by PWA. These are important, challenging questions, and researchers are still at an early stage of work to answer them.
The authors of the current study illustrate how progress may be made. Drawing on professional and clinical networks, they identified persons across Australia who were available to share their views about their lives with aphasia, their views on self-management, and their uses of technologies in its pursuit. The researchers conducted face-to-face, semi-structured, in-depth interviews with 26 such individuals, and used content analysis to note specific issues, group them into topic areas, and ultimately organize them into overarching themes.
Six such themes emerged. (1) For PWA, self-management means taking control of their lives with aphasia, including assuming responsibility for engaging in communicative activities. (2) Community aphasia groups contribute significantly towards success, importantly by providing peer support. (3) Engaged communication partners play a pivotal role, rendering multifaceted practical and psychological aid. (4) Speech pathologists contribute to self-management competence through provision of educational materials and training. (5) Technology can expand opportunities for self-management by promoting communicative success in everyday activities, by facilitating autonomous therapy, and by affording opportunities for remote connections with others. (6) Psychological, physical, cognitive, and health issues may require management for successful self-management.
These themes suggest how technologies may be further developed to improve self-management by PWA. Promising approaches include developing technologies that: (1) expand opportunities for PWA to engage remotely in conversation and social interaction; (2) simplify the production, dissemination, and use of highly-stimulating, personally relevant technology-based materials; and (3) adaptively shape individuals’ multimodal engagement with and stimulation from such materials for ongoing rehabilitative benefit.
For further reading: L. Nichol, S. J. Wallace, R. Pitt, et al., 2021,
People with aphasia share their views on self-management and the role of technology to support self-management of aphasia. Disability and Rehabilitation. https://doi.org/10.1080/09638288.2021.198950