Aphasia refers to the condition in which the section or sections of the brain responsible for language are damaged. For most individuals, the language center is located in the left hemisphere of the brain. Aphasia is usually caused by sudden injury or stroke, but might be because of a brain tumor, dementia or an infection. Aphasia mainly affects the clarity of an individual's intelligibility. A person's language might be clearly understood, but consist of random words strung together without making any sense. An aphasic person might speak in short, labored phrases, obviously having difficulty putting his ideas into words. Speech and language therapy can benefit adults or children with aphasia.
Roberta Chapey, while at Brooklyn College, developed a research-based system for treating clients with aphasia. Chapey worked primarily with adults who comprise the majority of aphasia cases.
Divergent and Convergent Language
Convergent language tasks require an individual to generate a single answer to a question or statement. For example, "Please turn the light ___ when you leave the room." The answer should be "off." Divergent language tasks require a person to generate multiple answers and new ideas about objects. For example, "Name things that roll" is a divergent thinking task.
Chapey developed a strategy for incorporating divergent language tasks into the therapy of clients with aphasia. According to Chapey, individuals with mild or moderate aphasia have divergent semantic impairments. However, persons with severe aphasia will have both divergent and convergent semantic impairments. Therefore, divergent semantic therapy is mainly for use in therapy for mild to moderate aphasia.
Divergent Semantic Tasks for Use in Therapy
Chapey identified five specific types of divergent semantic tasks that could benefit aphasia patients: object naming, consequences, common situations, product improvement and brick use. Object naming involves the therapist giving a broad category and asking the client to name things that would fit that category. For example, if the category is "Things that wave," the client could name "flag," "hand," "ocean," and so forth. A consequences activity consists of the therapist introducing a new situation to which the client must tell the effect. For example, the therapist asked, "What would happen if people returned to a barter system and no longer used money?" The client might hypothesize that banks would become like zoos or warehouses. Product improvement exercises require the client to imagine how an object could be improved or made more interesting. Common situations involve the client naming all possible problems or issues that could occur in an everyday situation. Brick use refers to a client brainstorming new uses for ordinary objects.