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AAC in inpatient rehabilitation (Gormley & Light, 2019)

posted on 2019-02-20, 18:47 authored by Jessica Gormley, Janice Light
Purpose: To guide the development of future trainings in the inpatient rehabilitation setting, this study aimed to expand the current understanding of (a) the experiences of speech-language pathologists (SLPs) who work in inpatient rehabilitation settings when providing augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) services to individuals with complex communication needs and (b) the challenges and facilitating factors related to AAC services within this context.
Method: An online focus group was used to explore experiences of 11 SLPs who work within the inpatient rehabilitation setting. Information was gathered about (a) the role of the inpatient SLP in AAC service delivery, (b) rehabilitation team service delivery, (c) successes and challenges to supporting individuals with complex communication needs within this setting, and (d) communication training opportunities.
Results: Themes that emerged related to (a) the complicated logistics of rehabilitation; (b) the centrality of the rehabilitation team; (c) the limited AAC tools, knowledge, and trainings for rehabilitation providers; and (d) SLPs’ attitudes. Participants reported navigating complicated logistics unique to the inpatient rehabilitation related to time constraints, limited AAC funding, the continuum of rehabilitation care, and limited AAC policies in attempting to meet patient needs. Generally, participants suggested successful team collaboration, yet limited time, expertise, tools, and training opportunities challenged attempts to support individuals with complex communication needs.
Conclusions: Increased access to AAC tools and the development of AAC trainings are recommended to equip rehabilitation professionals with skills to build interprofessional and AAC skills so patients with complex communication needs can maximally participate in the rehabilitation experience.

Supplemental Material S1. Interview guide: weekly discussion topics.

Supplemental Material S2. Definitions of coding themes.

Supplemental Material S3. Summary of themes and the distribution of thought units across themes and participants.

Gormley, J., & Light, J. (2019). Providing services to individuals with complex communication needs in the inpatient rehabilitation setting: The experiences and perspectives of speech-language pathologists. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 28, 456–468.


This study was supported by funding from (a) National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research Grant 90RE5017 to the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Augmentative and Alternative Communication (Janice Light, PI), (b) U.S. Department of Education Augmentative and Alternative Communication Doctoral Leadership Grant H325D170024 (awarded to Janice Light), and (c) the Hintz Family Endowed Chair for Children’s Communicative Competence (awarded to Janice Light).