Interactions between the environment, physical demands, and social engagement at an Aphasia Camp
Individuals with aphasia experience impairments in communication that can be exacerbated by environmental and task demands. This investigation examined the interaction between physical-demands, social-engagement, and environment. An interdisciplinary team, including speech language pathologists and a kinesiologist measured the activities of individuals with aphasia at the Chippewa Valley Aphasia Camp. Accelerometers were used to measure degree of physical exertion as an indication of physical demands. The Clinical Discourse Assessment (Damico, 1991), Measure of Participation in Conversation and Measure of Skill in Supported Conversation (Kagan et al., 2004), qualitative analyses, and investigator field notes served as indicators of social engagement. The International Classification of Disease Functioning (ICF) was used to code environmental factors, which either served as a facilitator or barrier to participation. Qualitative analyses indicate that the presence of physical environmental barriers and more strenuous physical exertion sometimes serve to decrease social engagement and exchange. However, partners who served as facilitators enabled participants to overcome high environmental and/or physical task demands to support successful social engagement and exchange. These analyses suggest that participants with aphasia can overcome physical environmental barriers and/or high physical task demands, given effective partner supports. This investigation contributes to a small body of research regarding the interaction between environmental demands and social communication among individuals with aphasia. Further, the investigation contributes empirical information about the environment and social communication context of a rustic Aphasia Camp.
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