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Finding zen in aphasia (Bislick et al., 2021)

posted on 2021-11-19, 21:30 authored by Lauren Bislick, Aimee Dietz, E. Susan Duncan, Pilar Garza, Rachel Gleason, Dana Harley, Greg Kersey, Terri Kersey, Chitrali R. Mamlekar, Michael J. McCarthy, Vicki Noe, Deanna Rushlow, J. Chase Rushlow, Stephanie Van Allan
Purpose: Recently, the literature has witnessed a surging interest regarding the use of mind–body approaches with people who have aphasia, generating a plethora of possible outcome measures. During this same time, a core outcome set for aphasia has been recommended. The purpose of this clinical focus article is to give our survivor, co-survivor, and clinician stakeholder coauthors a platform to share their personal narrative regarding their yoga journey, with the goal of identifying primary outcome domains central to capturing the impact of yoga on the recovery process for people with poststroke aphasia. Ultimately, we hope this clinical focus article helps clinicians understand how yoga might benefit their patients and draws attention to potential outcome measures, while also highlighting the important fact that traditional aphasia assessments do not capture the improvements stakeholders pinpoint as crucial to the essence of mind–body interventions.
Method: This clinical focus article summarizes the case reports of Terri’s and Chase’s poststroke yoga journeys using the power of personal narrative and an adapted photovoice method. Additional stakeholders share in this storytelling process, using a variety of narrative tools. As this story is unveiled, several patient-identified outcome domains are highlighted as essential to document the impact of yoga on survivors.
Results: Terri’s and Chase’s yoga journeys revealed the multifaceted impact of yoga on five domains: (a) feelings of wholeness and “zen,” (b) increased attentional capacity for language tasks, (c) increased verbal fluency, (d) decreased pain, and (e) relationship mutuality.
Conclusion: Team Yoga realized that the practice of yoga —whether as a stand-alone practice or integrated into therapy sessions—fosters feelings of wholeness or “zen,” which likely correlates with decreased pain with a simultaneous increase in resilience and flexibility of coping strategies to manage the host of chronic poststroke challenges.

Supplemental Material S1. Watch the full, 1-hour presentation of Team Yoga at the 2019 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). During this seminar, they share how mind-body interventions such as yoga can be used to faciliate resilience and coping. Chase and Stephanie also demonstrate YogaMATE©. Copyright © 2019 Aimee Dietz.

Supplemental Material S2. Terri reading Team Yoga’s research question at the 2018 Project BRIDGE Conference. Copyright © 2021 Aimee Dietz.

Bislick, L., Dietz, A., Duncan, E. S., Garza, P., Gleason, R., Harley, D., Kersey, G., Kersey, T., Mamlekar, C. R., McCarthy, M. J., Noe, V., Rushlow, D., Rushlow, J. C., & Van Allan, S. (2021). Finding “zen” in aphasia: The benefits of yoga as described by key stakeholders. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Advance online publication.

Publisher Note: This article is part of the Forum: 2020 Clinical Aphasiology Conference.


The lead author (Dietz) and coauthor (McCarthy) received a $10,000 Interdisciplinary Seed Grant from the College of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Cincinnati in 2016. Coauthors Dietz, Bislick, Duncan, J. C. Rushlow, and D. Rushlow each received a $500 honorarium from Project BRIDGE (Building Research Initiatives by Developing Group Effort) to attend a conference supported by Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute in October 2018.