New Research Award to Help Adults with Communication Disabilities

Researchers with the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and Voices of Hope for Aphasia were awarded a $235,000 research grant that will assist adults with communication disabilities, like aphasia, that are a result of stroke or other neurological conditions.

“One in 3 people who has a stroke will have a communication disability,” said Dr. Jackie Hinckley, Executive Director for Voices of Hope for Aphasia.

The project will create training and resources for researchers, patient partners and clinicians to collaborate on aphasia research and treatment. Communication products similar to those used by people visiting a country where they do not know the language will be developed. Researcher-consumer teams will also be employed to actively address effectiveness of current aphasia treatment. Teams will come together during the Building Research Initiatives by Developing Group Effort (Bridge) Conference on October 19-20, 2018 in St. Petersburg, FL.

Nearly 2 million people in the United States live with aphasia, an impairment of language that can affect speech and the ability to read or write, commonly caused by a stroke. Individuals with aphasia have intact intelligence, but have trouble finding the words they need to express themselves.

An estimated 14 percent of the U.S. population experiences some type of communication disability, including hearing impairments, speech impairments and language impairments of both children and adults. Roughly eight percent of the U.S. population was considered “Limited English Proficient” in 2013.

“Insights and approaches derived from this project can be relevant to at least one-fifth of the U.S. population who has some form of communication difficulties,” said Alejandro Brice, professor of Education at USFSP, an expert on communication sciences and disorders and PI on the project. “Though this research is focused on aphasia, it has the potential for broad application in the future to other groups at high risk for exclusion due to language barriers.”

The award is funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, a non-profit organization authorized by Congress to fund comparative effectiveness research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence needed to make better-informed health and healthcare decisions.