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How do I help people with Wernicke’s aphasia?

You've been asking for it: Here's a round-up of impairment-based interventions and functional treatment ideas for you to use with patients who have fluent aphasia!

February 4, 2022

Me, giving a facility screener to a new client post-stroke: Can you answer yes/ no questions?

The client, with all the confidence in the world: Yes, I can bathe and dress myself.

Me: *furiously scribbles notes to assess for likely Wernicke’s aphasia*

Ohhh, Wernicke’s aphasia. We learn about the symptoms and diagnosis in grad school and then cross our fingers that we only ever see textbook-Broca’s aphasia…you know, the one we feel most confident about, that has *all* the treatment options and EBP. 


As a refresher, people with Wernicke’s aphasia have impaired auditory comprehension and repetition, but fluency is relatively spared…

Bose, A. (2013). Phonological therapy in jargon aphasia: Effects on naming and neologisms. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders. https://doi.org/10.1111/1460-6984.12038


Boyle, M. (2004). Semantic feature analysis treatment for anomia in two fluent aphasia syndromes. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. https://doi.org/10.1044/1058-0360(2004/025) [available to ASHA members]


Carlomagno, S., Zulian, N., Razzano, C., De Mercurio, I., & Marini, A. (2013). Coverbal gestures in the recovery from severe fluent aphasia: A pilot study. Journal of Communication Disorders. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcomdis.2012.08.007


Edmonds, L. A., Mammino, K., & Ojeda, J. (2014). Effect of Verb Network Strengthening Treatment (VNeST) in persons with aphasia: Extension and replication of previous findings. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. https://doi.org/10.1044/2014_AJSLP-13-0098 [available to ASHA members]


Hersh, D., Worrall, L., Howe, T., Sherratt, S., Davidson, B. (2012). SMARTER goal setting in aphasia rehabilitation. Aphasiology. https://doi.org/10.1080/02687038.2011.640392 


Holland, A., Hopper, T., & Rewega, M. (2002). Conversational coaching: Treatment outcomes and future directions. Aphasiology. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02687030244000059 


Kiran, S., Caplan, D., Sandberg, C., Levy, J., Berardino, A., Ascenso, E., Villard, S., & Tripodis, Y. (2012). Development of a theoretically based treatment for sentence comprehension deficits in aphasia. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, https://doi.org/10.1044/1058-0360(2012/11-0106 [available to ASHA members]


Kiran, S., & Thompson, C. K. (2003). The role of semantic complexity in treatment of naming deficits: Training semantic categories in fluent aphasia by controlling exemplar typicality. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research. https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2003/048) [available to ASHA members]

Kurland, J., Baldwin, K., & Tauer, C. (2010). Treatment-induced neuroplasticity following intensive naming therapy in a case of chronic Wernicke’s aphasia. Aphasiology.  https://doi.org/10.1080/02687030903524711


Marshall, R. C. (2008). Early management of Wernicke’s aphasia: A context‐based approach. In Chapey, R. Language interventions strategies in aphasia and related neurogenic communication disorders (5th ed.).


Sul, B., Kim, J. S., Hong, B. Y., Lee, K. B., Hwang, W. S., Kim, Y. K., & Lim, S. H. (2016). The prognosis and recovery of aphasia related to stroke lesion. Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine. https://doi.org/10.5535/arm.2016.40.5.786 [open access]


Wilssens, I., Vandenborre, D., van Dun, K., Verhoeven, J., Visch-Brink, E., & Mariën, P. (2015). Constraint-induced aphasia therapy versus intensive semantic treatment in fluent aphasia. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. https://doi.org/10.1044/2015_AJSLP-14-0018 [available to ASHA members]

Worrall, L., Brown, K., Crucie, M., Davidson, B., Hersh, D., Howe, T., & Sherratt, S. (2010). The evidence for a life-coaching approach to aphasia. Aphasiology. https://doi.org/10.1080/02687030802698152

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