ASHA journals
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Impact of COVID-19 on stroke/brain trauma survivors (Fama et al., 2021)

journal contribution
posted on 2021-07-07, 21:42 authored by Mackenzie E. Fama, Brooke Hatfield, Suzanne Coyle, Melissa S. Richman, Amy C. Georgeadis
Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines that have the potential to greatly impact individuals’ behavior and social engagement. Adults recovering from stroke or other brain trauma, who often have communication difficulties and other long-term challenges, are a population already at risk of isolation and lower quality of life. We investigated the impact of public health guidelines and related behavioral changes on self-perceptions of communication abilities and psychosocial factors in this population.
Method: The Stroke Comeback Center, a community-based center for stroke and other brain trauma survivors with communication impairments, disseminated an online survey to current members to investigate changes in communication, social engagement, and quality of life.
Results: Participants (N = 50) reported a number of changes in their day-to-day activities that reflect the current social distancing guidelines, such as reduced outings into the community and fewer in-person conversations with those living outside one’s home. Overall, feelings of connectedness to others and overall quality of life were reported to be decreased when compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic, whereas receptive language abilities and technology skills were reported to have improved. Perhaps most interestingly, certain behavioral changes (including healthy movement activities and participation in virtual programs) had specific relationships with perceived communication abilities and social engagement.
Conclusions: Changes in daily life resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic have had a tangible impact on self-perceived psychosocial elements (e.g., quality of life) and communication abilities among stroke and other brain trauma survivors. Clinicians and researchers may consider these perceived changes when engaging with this population as the effects of the pandemic continue and in the period of community re-entry that may follow.

Supplemental Material S1. Coronavirus impact questionnaire.

Supplemental Material S2. Full set of responses to open-ended questions on the online survey.

Fama, M. E., Hatfield, B., Coyle, S., Richman, M. S., & Georgeadis, A. C. (2021). The impact of the COVID-19 public health crisis on communication and quality of life: Insights from a community of stroke and brain trauma survivors. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication.