Date of Completion

Winter 12-15-2020

Thesis Advisor(s)

Dr. Jennifer Mozeiko

Honors Major

Allied Health Sciences


Purpose: Research has shown the positive influence of enriched environments on neuroplasticity outcomes for brain-damaged rodents. It is possible that the successful rehabilitation of adults with aphasia following a stroke requires a rich communicative environment. It has been posited that a rich communication environment is one that makes use of the distributed communication principles salience, flexibility, multiplicity, positivity, success, and flow as described by Hengst et al. (2019). The present study examines whether these principles are indeed meaningful in the context of the home environment for people with aphasia.

Methods: Conversations of four participants (two with aphasia and two non-brain injured) and their communication partners are assessed. Recorded conversations were collected by the use of Language ENvironment Analysis (LENA) digital language processors (DLPs) at home for two days. The conversations with the highest word count were combined until a total of one cumulative hour was reached. This hour of conversation was transcribed and each topic was rated for each principle as either positive, negative, or neutral.

Results: It was concluded that salience, success, positivity, and flow were the most used principles and they did appear to be meaningful. Salience emerged as particularly meaningful. There was little use of flexibility or multiplicity.

Conclusions: This research confirmed that the distributed communication principles, used previously in a clinic setting, do also contribute to communicative richness in the home environment. This suggests that there should be education on how to increase instances of the distributed communication principles in the home environment. As such, we can aim to improve current Communication Partner Training techniques and, in turn, improve aphasia rehabilitation outcomes for participants with aphasia.