Supported Communication to Improve Participation in Rehabilitation of people with moderate-severe aphasia after stroke (SCIP-R)

Key Contact: Dr Simon Horton


About a third of people who have a stroke for the first time experience aphasia, a communication disorder affecting speaking, understanding, writing or reading. Aphasia is associated with longer stays in hospital and has severe consequences for all aspects of life.

People with aphasia may not fully benefit from stroke rehabilitation for a number of reasons to do with their communication. They may be unable to understand questions, follow instructions, or express their needs. This may lead to misunderstanding and frustration. Information must be communicated in particular ways to be accessible to them, or they may need additional help to set goals. Staff are not necessarily trained in the skills to support people with aphasia in these ways. ‘Supported communication’ uses a set of techniques to make communication accessible for people with aphasia. A skilled communication partner uses low-tech resources such as pen/paper, pictures, symbols, calendars, or gestures to break down barriers and enable understanding and expression.

Research with community volunteers and students has shown that there are beneficial effects for conversation and engagement. Supported communication could be used by any member of the stroke team to help patients with aphasia to engage more fully in rehabilitation. It has the potential to improve the quality of care, and address some of the key aims of stroke rehabilitation such as adapting to disability, and increasing quality of life and wellbeing.

Previous studies have mostly focused on its use outside the clinical context. This study aims to build on this evidence and see whether supported communication is a technique that can be learned by stroke unit staff, and used during every day rehabilitation to enhance participation and improve outcomes for people with aphasia. The results of the study will be used to strengthen the design of a more comprehensive trial.

Funder: NIHR Research for Patient Benefit

A published paper on this study can be accessed here.

You may be interested in using video as a way of disseminating your research findings or in teaching / education.

Here’s a link to a video we made about some of the findings from the SCIP-R study:

Making the video was an opportunity to further involve people with aphasia as collaborators (PPI) as well as getting the findings out to a wider audience than may be possible through conventional publishing routes.

Please feel free to forward or use as you will.