Computers and Aphasia

Technology can improve language recovery in group therapy.

Computers can be effective communication tools for people with aphasia. Clients at the University of Michigan Aphasia Program (UMAP) participate in a computer lab five days a week that is coordinated by a speech clinician and a student assistant.

Two to three clients work on specific programs in a group session. The programs address therapy goals such as reading, writing, listening, speaking, thinking and memory skills.

For some of our older clients, their first exposure to a computer is through the UMAP computer lab. They can be intimidated and afraid that they will not be able to learn how to use technology to enhance their individual therapy. Others have not used a computer since they had a stroke and are unsure of their skills.

With careful guidance and support from the clinical staff, many older clients have positive experiences. Programs are selected carefully to offer clients success, independence and improvement in their language skills. Peers also encourage them to use these tools and are excellent role models for those who are less tech savvy. Family members need to be supportive and reinforce the use of computers by their spouse or partner.

If clients do not have the stamina for daily computer sessions, their schedule can be modified to meet their needs. During the computer lab sessions, some may need guidance from a volunteer or student intern.

Ongoing family education is critical to supporting a client's use of the computer in therapy as well as at home. Family members frequently observe and assist their loved one in the use of computer programs.

Most of our clients enjoy using technology and find it helpful in their daily lives. They continually improve their language recovery by working on specific programs, and they find they have more independence and control over their lives. It is very empowering for them to be able to communicate once again with family and friends and to re-enter their community. The overall result is a more positive outlook.


Mimi Block is clinical services manager at UMAP. For more information, visit www.aphasiahelp.com.

Articles Archives

have been using computer successfully for many years for aphasia patients, as well high functioning TBI,dementia population. Most recently one of my patients sent an email to the President, other was happy to find a way to communicate with his daughter and other one displayed a larger than life smile after reserving a room for me with hotle.com. The last one was inspired to renew his CNA license so that he can help other patients. He had a TBI in oil business. And one wrote a prayer to GOD. All of them either unable to use pen and pencil or felt that they can't read and write, but they accomplished all the tasks of daily living with mild to moderate guidance within a wk. I hope I didn't violate any human ethical boundaries.
Your program is glorious validation of the utility of computers in cognitive, receptive, expressive rehabilitation.Thank you for your article.

ABHA SHARMA,  COO,  L.U.S.A. Global Brain RehabilitationNovember 13, 2011
Dallas, TX

Our readers of thsi email familiar with REACT? This is an aphasia therapy resource with exercisse that can be set for individuals with aphasia.

Emma Shah,  speech and language therapistNovember 13, 2011
kenya- nairobi

I was a student clinician in the UMAP shortly after WWII. As a rule clinician's should be taking advantage of contemporary technical advances with various populations. Writing about the specifics of this program might be more helpful and should make readers more aware of its possible usefulness and limitations.

Raymond  Lezak ,  Dr.November 10, 2011
Shaker Heights , OH


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