AAC in Inpatient Rehabilitation Settings (Gormley, 2017)

Jessica GormleyGormley, J. (September, 2017). “To get our patients the communication system they need at the exact level they are in the rehabilitation process”: An online focus group of speech-language pathologists. Presentation at AAC Colloquium, Penn State University.

Jessica Gormley presented on the results of her recent focus group study with 11 speech-language pathologists of supports and barriers to the use of AAC  in inpatient rehabilitation settings. A summary appears below, the entire presentation is available as a handout 

The challenge

A severe communication disability can negatively impact the quality of life, health outcomes, and participation of individuals with CCN in medical encounters

  • They experience three times more preventable adverse medical events (Bartlett, 2008)
  • Reducing communication barriers of individuals with CCN in acute care facilities could prevent 547,906 adverse events annually (projected savings of $5.7 billion) (Hurtig & Alper, 2016)
  • Rehabilitation setting is complex and dynamic which impacts service delivery

Barriers to AAC services

Logistics of the rehabilitation setting: time constraints, limited funding, complex coordination of discharge plans, limited AAC protocols

Personnel factors: limited AAC expertise/leadership, attitudes of staff, challenges with team collaboration, communication, or consistency

Tools/trainings: limited time to develop/personalize, challenges with high-tech tools, limited opportunities to train or be trained

Clinical Implications and Recommendations

  • Use of multimodal communication tools in the inpatient setting may be beneficial
  • Training is necessary to build communicative competence but time and resources may present unique challenges in the inpatient rehabilitation setting
  •  Integration of AAC  and inpatient rehabilitation specific topics into pre- and in-service trainings for rehab professionals may help to strengthen skills and empower leadership
  • Consistent team collaboration and communication was reported as integral to supporting individuals with CCN

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