The mid-January issue of the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing had an article titled, “The Impact of COVID-19 on Speakers With Aphasia: What Is Currently Known and Missing?” by Anthony Pak-Hin Kong. As we near the one-year mark of the pandemic, it’s important to look at how people with aphasia are doing against the backdrop of COVID-19. Human connection and interaction are impacted by the virus, and both are key elements to communication and treating aphasia.
What We Know
The pandemic has deeply impacted people with aphasia. Social distancing and isolation—key strategies for containing the virus—impact the ability of people with aphasia to connect and communicate with people. Treating aphasia requires continuous speech practice, and limiting the number of people a person with aphasia can see creates a reduction of face-to-face communication time.
At the same time, technology has mitigated the impact as speech therapists have moved services online. Additionally, friends and family talk over video calls, providing speech practice.
What We Need To Do
The journal article highlights the importance of support systems and resources for people with aphasia and caregivers. They provide examples of what groups around the world are doing.
Moreover, people with aphasia need clear, concise, fact-based information. Aphasia-friendly explanations of COVID-19 and general guidance is important for both safety and peace-of-mind.
Where We Go Next
More research needs to happen in regards to aphasia and COVID-19. The article states, “The National Institutes of Health has emphasized the need to research and address health outcome disparities among populations that are vulnerable and underrepresented, such as PWA after stroke that substantially limit their major life activities.”
People with aphasia and their caregivers have extra challenges during the pandemic. Steps need to be taken to make sure people can continue to treat their aphasia during the pandemic. We encourage you to read the article in full to see the details of what we know and where we’re heading when it comes to aphasia and COVID-19.