UCL Psychology and Language Sciences


A health service investigation of the treatment of word finding difficulties in aphasia


Therapist researchers:Alison Greenwood, Jennie Grassly, Julie Hickin, Wendy Best
FunderThe Stroke Association, The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia, Wycombe Primary Care Trust
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The above project was proposed following the success of the academically based study, 'The use of phonological and orthographic cues in the treatment of word finding difficulties in aphasia' (see separate entry on this site). As the health service is increasingly turning towards evidence-based practice, the primary aim of the present study is to evaluate the effectiveness of this therapy in a clinical setting, adopting the materials, as necessary, for clinical use.

Like the initial project, there are two phases of therapy. The first phase focuses on lexical retrieval with cues. The second on retrieving words in interaction, moving from structured tasks to conversation. The current study is a therapy project in progress, and aims to answer the following questions:

  • How important is a choice of cue? The current study compares treatment with a choice of cue with treatment with a single cue, to help answer this question.
  • Are combined phonological and orthographic cues effective? The academically based study compared orthographic with phonological cues, with both conditions resulting in similar levels of improvement overall. The current study allows investigation of the effect of combining the cues, which reflects use in the clinical environment.
  • What is the effect of choosing personally relevant items in treatment? A set of personally relevant items was used in the academic study. To ensure therapy is functionally relevant to each participant, a larger set of personally chosen items is being used, enabling a comparison of the effect of the different phases of therapy on these items.
  • What is the relationship between the type of deficit and the response to treatment? The current study aims to add to the body of data collected from the first study.

1. Hickin, J., Best, W., Herbert, R., Howard, D. and Osborne, F. (2002) Phonological therapy for word-finding difficulties: a re-evaluation. Aphasiology, 16, 981-999.

2. Herbert, R., Best, W., Hickin, J., Howard, D. and Osborne, F. (2003) Combining lexical and interactional approaches to therapy for word finding deficits in aphasia. Aphasiology, 17, 1163-1186.

3. Best, W., Herbert, R., Hickin, J., Osborne, F. and Howard, D. (2002) Phonological and orthographic facilitation of word-retrieval in aphasia: immediate & delayed effects. Aphasiology, 16, 151-168.

4. Hickin, J., Best, W., Herbert, R., Howard, D. and Osborne, F. (2001) Treatment of word retrieval in aphasia: generalisation to conversational speech. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 36, (Supplement) 13-18.