Communication after traumatic brain injury

the effectiveness of a Pragmatics rehabilitation programme


  • Nicole Agrela Universidade Católica Portuguesa
  • Maria Emília Santos Universidade Católica Portuguesa
  • Sandra Guerreiro Universidade Católica Portuguesa



Traumatic Brain Injury, Communication, Rehabilitation, Pragmatics


Objective: The present study intends to assess the effects of a Pragmatics rehabilitation programme on communication skills.

Method: We have recruited 12 participants who had suffered from severe or moderate Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), with more than two years post-onset, who were randomly divided into two groups, an Experimental Group (EG) and a Control Group (CG). The EG followed a specific programme for the rehabilitation of Pragmatic Communication and the CG followed a programme of communication stimulation through group conversation. Each programme consisted of 24 one-hour, thirty-minute sessions, twice a week, for 12 weeks. In order to verify the efficacy of the programme, both groups were assessed before and after using the two equivalent forms of the same scale, Forms A and B, of The Assessment Battery of Communication (ABaCo).

Results: Improvements were observed in both groups, although much more evident in the EG. Both groups obtained better results regarding Extralinguistic Comprehension and Production (questions, assertions, commands, requests and ironies by using gesticulation). In the EG there was also an improvement in Paralinguistic Production (facial expressions and intonation).

Conclusion: The results demonstrate the effectiveness and relevance of establishing rehabilitation programmes for communicative pragmatic disorders after TBI. The study shows how a simple conversation intervention programme can be beneficial when more elaborated therapies cannot be executed.

Author Biographies

Nicole Agrela, Universidade Católica Portuguesa

Nicole Agrela is a PhD student, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Instituto de Ciências da Saúde, Lisbon, Portugal, ORCID: 0000-0002-9514-9689.

Maria Emília Santos, Universidade Católica Portuguesa

Maria Emília Santos is at the Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Health (CIIS), Instituto de Ciências da Saúde, Lisboa, Portugal, ORCID: 0000-0002-7575-4435.

Sandra Guerreiro, Universidade Católica Portuguesa

Sandra Guerreiro works at the Centro de Reabilitação Profissional de Gaia, (CRPG), Portugal, ORCID: 0000-0002-1367-5803


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How to Cite

Agrela, N., Santos, M. E., & Guerreiro, S. (2020). Communication after traumatic brain injury: the effectiveness of a Pragmatics rehabilitation programme. Journal of Interactional Research in Communication Disorders, 9(2), 172–190.