Situational therapy for Wernicke's aphasia

Eric Lewin Altschuler, Alicia Multari, William Hirstein, V. S. Ramachandran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Patients with Wernicke's or expressive aphasia are able to produce fluent speech, however, this speech may be complete gibberish sounds and totally incomprehensible, or even when comprehensible to a degree is often laced with severe errors and abnormalities such as verbal and phonemic paraphasias and neologisms. Furthermore, patient's with Wernicke's aphasia have poor to no understanding of speech or language. There is no proven method for rehabilitation of Wernicke's aphasia, or even much guidance for physicians or speech therapists to treat Wernicke's aphasia patients. In contrast to their poor to non-existent communication skills using speech or other forms of language, it has long been appreciated informally and formally that Wernicke's aphasia patients are able to communicate well, even normally, using non-verbal means such as actions, movements, props, gestures, facials expressions, and affect. Furthermore, in non-language domains Wernicke's aphasia patients can show normal memory and learning abilities. Thus, we here suggest that the non-language communication channels of Wernicke's aphasia patients be channeled and utilized in their functional rehabilitation: Specifically, we suggest that therapy for Wernicke's aphasia patients should consist of placing patients in real or simulated important functional situations - e.g., buying food, taking transport - and let the patients train and learn to use and hone their non-language communication means and skills for improved practical functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)713-716
Number of pages4
JournalMedical Hypotheses
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2006
Externally publishedYes


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