Aphasia treatment for verbs with low concreteness (Bailey et al., 2019)

Purpose: Verbs with low concreteness are frequent in discourse samples but rarely targeted in aphasia treatments for verbs. These verbs are an important part of functional communication, and recent studies have called for more research regarding aphasia and treatment stimuli with low concreteness. The aim of this study was to pilot the use of verbs with low concreteness in a novel sentence production intervention with persons with aphasia.
Method: The study took the form of a single-case experimental design with multiple baselines across behaviors and across participants. Three persons with chronic nonfluent aphasia and apraxia of speech participated in the study. Each participant received treatment designed to increase the semantic networks of verbs with high frequency and low concreteness. Sentence production was closely examined over the course of treatment for treated and untreated verbs of varying concreteness levels. Additional measures of language and cognitive functioning were also taken before and after treatment.
Results: Results indicated improved sentence production with target verbs attributable to the treatment in the 1st phase of 2 phases for 2 of the 3 participants. The increases corresponded with the application of treatment, despite the difference in number of baseline sessions for the participants. Where there were treatment effects, there was also considerable generalization to untreated sets of items during the 1st treatment phase. Word retrieval also improved for 2 participants.
Conclusions: The results suggest that the novel treatment may improve sentence production and word retrieval in persons with aphasia, even when using target verbs with low concreteness ratings. Future research is warranted into the use of low concreteness verbs.

Supplemental Figure S1. Sentence frame for treatment.
Supplemental Figure S2. Participants 1–3 sentence repetition probe performance. 

Supplemental Figure S3. Participants 1–3 discourse generalization probe performance.

Supplemental Table S1. Verb stimuli lists for sentence production probes.

Supplemental Table S2. Discourse probe stimuli.

Supplemental Table S3. Sentence production scoring rubric.

Bailey, D. J., Nessler, C., Berggren, K. N., & Wambaugh, J. L. (2019). An aphasia treatment for verbs with low concreteness: A pilot study. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2019_AJSLP-18-0257