How Speech-Language Pathology May Help You Text and Email

By Ashley Goussak, M.A., CCC-SLP

What is Aphasia?

Have you ever had the feeling where you know what word you want to say, but the correct word won’t come out? That “tip of the tongue” feeling happens to many of us occasionally, but for people who have a brain injury, including a cerebral vascular accident – also known as a stroke – it might be happening more often than not.

Aphasia, one common consequence of a stroke, is a language disorder that affects how a person understands and expresses language. Aphasia may include difficulty in the areas of speaking, understanding spoken language, reading, and/or writing. It is typically accompanied by that characteristic “tip of the tongue” feeling, with greater or lesser frequency depending on the aphasia type and severity. This feeling may occur when speaking aloud, but also when writing with a pen and paper, typing on a computer, or sending a text message.

How texting and emailing can be affected 

Aphasia can affect you in ways you might not realize. Nowadays, some of our main modes of daily communication are texting and emailing. Having a keyboard of letters to choose from, however, may increase problems for people with Aphasia.

Think back to when you were a child, learning to read and write. You had an inventory of letters in your mind that you could select from when spelling a word. Spelling the word “ball”, you might have initially struggled between using the letter “b” or “p” to start the word, since they look so similar. This process of picking possible letters is something we still do; however, for most adults, it has become so streamlined and automatic that it usually goes unnoticed.

For some people with Aphasia, though, this process may become increasingly difficult as you add more possible letters to your inventory. Instead of narrowing these possible letters down in your mind, imagine having a keyboard presented in front of you with 26 letters to choose from, each and every time you select a letter. Instead of flowing out automatically, you might labor over every single letter choice. If you are someone who is experiencing aphasia, writing in this way might sometimes become overwhelming.

How can Outreach Rehabilitation help? 

Through many evidence-based treatment techniques, Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) can help with overall expression of language, including writing, typing, and texting. If expressing language through typing on a keyboard is difficult for you after a brain injury, you may benefit from skilled SLP services.

Specifically, a treatment technique called Anagram, Copy, and Recall Treatment (ACRT/CART) has been associated with improving spelling, word finding, and functional communication with others. Through structured cues from an SLP, this treatment approach uses letter tiles (picture a Scrabble tile) to target functional words. The patient unscrambles the word, then writes the word, and later in the session, recalls the spelling of the word. This treatment technique can be utilized with a keyboard to encourage improved spelling and word finding for typing. While unfortunately many rehab professionals haven’t yet incorporated modern technologies like texting into therapy, SLPs at Outreach Rehabilitation have had success in using CART techniques to improve typing and texting in people with Aphasia, and may help you reach your communication goals through CART or another modality that is individually tailored to your needs.

If you think you or a loved one might benefit from this treatment technique, contact your physician for a referral to Outreach.

How Outreach Can Help

We provide in-home Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech Therapy to individuals that have a difficult time getting/going to an out-patient rehabilitation facility on a consistent basis, prefer not to go to a facility, or those that are more effectively treated within their home.

We also have an out-patient clinic at 1110 2nd Avenue in the Sutton Place/UES area where we provide therapy for those who are adamant about receiving care in a clinic setting. Our evaluations are 45 minutes and treatments are one-to-one with an ample amount of treatment time per client (no double bookings allowed.)