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Spouses Attitudes, Behaviors, Views and Understanding of Spouses Aphasia

Traditionally, aphasic patients suffered from communication problems which extrapolated not only on their communication with strangers but also with members of their families, including spouses. In the current situation, the problem of poor communication between spouses is researched in depth since communication problems of either spouse can affect consistently the life of the family. In this respect, it should be said that the effectiveness of communication between spouses, to a significant extent, depends on their own communicative skills and their knowledge of aphasia. In actuality, it is obvious that spouses need additional training and special psychological assistance to get prepared to the effective communication with aphasic spouses. In fact, problems of aphasic patients do not end after the treatment conducted by health care professionals, but they still need support and effective communication with their spouses when the treatment ends.
Basically, there are a lot of researches dedicated to the problem of aphasic patients and relationship between spouses, one of which or both suffer from aphasia. At the same time, the research of this problem reveals numerous difficulties spouses can face in their daily life. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the research conducted by J.W. Helmick, T.S. Watamori and J.M. Palmer, “Spouses’ understanding of communication disabilities of aphasic patients” (1976). The researchers focus their attention on the communication skills of aphasic patients in the family context. The major goal of the researchers was to understand how aphasia affects the communication between spouses and whether they are able to adequately assess their communication problems. In terms of their study, Helmick, Watamori and Palmer focused on the analysis of skills of 11 aphasic patients and their spouses. It is worth mentioning the fact that the researchers underline that aphasia and related communication and language skills problems are family illnesses (Helmick, Watamori and Palmer, 1976, p.238). What is meant here is the fact that they stand on the ground that aphasia affects not only patients proper but also members of their family and, above all, their spouses. Obviously, spouses communicated regularly with patients suffering from aphasia and the effectiveness of their communication can affect consistently the psychological state of aphasic patients. The researchers measured spouse’s understanding of aphasic patients’ language deficit using the Functional Communication Profile.
The outcomes of the research were very significant since the researchers revealed the fact that spouses of aphasic patients often underestimate language and communication problems of their aphasic patients. Instead, they believe that aphasic spouses have less severe communication problems than the patients actually do (Helmick, Watamori and Palmer, 1976, p.241). As a result, spouses do not always understand aphasic spouses communication efforts that apparently undermines the effectiveness of the communication process between spouses (Helmick, Watamori and Palmer, 1976, p.241). In such a context, the researchers arrive to the conclusion that the assistance of the speech pathologist in language therapy can be helpful to patients with aphasia as well as spouses, because such specialists can train spouses and direct their communication to make it more effective (Helmick, Watamori and Palmer, 1976, p.239). Therefore, the researchers underline the importance of special training of spouses to facilitate their communication with aphasic spouses that will eliminate possible communication barriers raised by aphasia.
Another research dedicated to the problem of aphasic patients and communication of spouses was conducted by C. Croteau and G. Le Dorze, “Spouses’ perception of persons with aphasia” (2001). The researchers focused their attention on the perception of patients with aphasia by their spouses. In terms of their study, Croteau and Le Dorze researched two groups of spouses, one of which involved spouses with aphasia, while another was the control group. The researchers attempted to identify possible differences in the perception of spouses with aphasia. They supposed that the perception can differ consistently because of communication problems of spouses with aphasia (, Croteau and Le Dorze, 2001, p. 812). At the same time, their research revealed a number of noteworthy facts concerning the understanding of spouses with aphasia and communication between spouses. To put it more precisely, the researchers supposed that aphasia can affect individuals’ self-esteem and self-perception as well as the perception of people with aphasia by their spouses.
In the result of the research, they discovered that the perception of patients with aphasia differed from the control group on such scales as likability, achievement, endurance, order and succorance (Croteau and Le Dorze, 2001, p.816-817). Basically, patients with aphasia suffered from the lower expectations from the part of their spouses. What is meant here is the fact that spouses considered patients with aphasia less capable to achieve success, their endurance and order scales were consistently lower compared to the control group. In such a way, souses did not really understand the full potential of their spouses and underestimated their capabilities that was a result of the poor or ineffective communication between spouses.
C. Croteau and G. Le Dorze conducted one more research, entitled “Overprotection, ‘speaking for’, and conversational participation: A study of couples with aphasia” (2006), in which they focused on the communication of aphasic spouses and communication behavior of their partners. In fact, the researchers underline the fact that spouses play a very important role in the adaptation of patients with aphasia to the normal communication and social life. At the same time, Croteau and Le Dorze argue that spouses often tend to overprotection of spouses with aphasia in the process of communication (Croteau and Le Dorze, 2006, p.328). To put it more precisely, the researchers estimate that spouses use “speaking for” communication behavior when they do not stimulate their aphasic spouses to speak but rather attempt to guess what they want to say or speak instead of them, when spouses communicate with other people. Obviously, in such a situation, the overprotection can have a negative impact on aphasic spouses because they are practically deprived of an opportunity to communicate and, what is more, they are not motivated to speak because they heavily rely on their spouses which speak for them.
As a result, patients with aphasia tend to minor participation in conversations or even avoid conversations using their spouses as their speakers (Croteau and Le Dorze, 2001, p.334). Moreover, the research warns that overprotection can undermine the efforts of the rehabilitation teams which attempt to facilitate the process of communication for aphasic patients and integrate them into the normal social life and communication process (Croteau and Le Dorze, 2001, p.335). In such a context, it is possible to speak about the gap between intentions and expectations of spouses and effects of their “speaking for” behavior and overprotection. In fact, instead of improvement of communication and language skills of aphasic patients, such behavior and overprotection are likely to lead to the deterioration of patient’s communication and language skills, discouraging them to speak independently from their spouses.
Another important aspect of communication between spouses and aphasic patients is the problem of training of spouses to such communication. In this respect, it is possible to refer to the research by N.N. Simmons-Mackie, K.P. Kearns, G. Potechin, “CAC classics: Treatment of aphasia through family member training” (2005). The researchers underline that the treatment of aphasia is a complicated process which involves not only the work of health care professionals, but also the assistance of family members of patients with aphasia. In this respect, the researchers pay a particular attention to the role of spouses of patients with aphasia. Simmons-Mackie, Kearns and Potechin argue that training of spouses of patients with aphasia can have positive effect on communication skills of the latter (2005, p.584). Moreover, the researchers believe that such training is essential because often spouses tend to use ineffective communication strategies which can deteriorate the state of patients with aphasia and stimulate the progress of this problem. In fact, the researchers points out that spouses can interrupt patients with aphasia, ask convergent questions and apply negative teaching, which apparently produce a negative effect on patients with aphasia (Simmons-Mackie, Kearns and Potechin, 23005, p.592).
Eventually, the researchers arrive to the conclusion that spouses of patients with aphasia need direct training of interactive behavior, which may be very effective in regard to aphasic patients since it can improve their communication skills (Simmons-Mackie, Kearns and Potechin, 2005, p. 593). In such a way, the researchers lay emphasis on the fact that spouses have to assist to patients with aphasia in order to help them to overcome their communication problems, while without such assistance, the efforts of health care professionals can be insufficient or ineffective.
Finally, it is necessary to dwell upon the study conducted by M.E. Santos et al., “Problems of patients with chronic aphasia: different perspectives of husbands and wives?” (1998). The researchers suggested that the behavior of aphasic patients can depend on their gender or, at least, it can differ being influenced by gender of patients (Santos et al., 1998, 23). At this point, it should be said that the researchers involved two groups: 55 spouses of patients with aphasia and 37 spouses as a control group.
The findings of the studies revealed the fact that the opinions of souses of patients with aphasia differed consistently, while there was no significant difference noticed in the control group. The researchers revealed the fact that women are more susceptible to behavioral changes than men that the researchers explain by the influence of the gender factor on their behavior (Santos et al., 1998, p.28). At the same time, they warn that such changes can be very stressful for both patients with aphasia and their spouses (Santos et al., 1998, p.28).
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that the communication and behavior of patients with aphasia is highly dependent on their spouses. Obviously, aphasic patients need the assistance from the part of their spouses to overcome their communication problems. In such a context, spouses need to understand their aphasic spouses and to be able to apply effective communication strategies to facilitate the communication of aphasic patients. The latter implies that spouses need special training to learn to communicate effectively with aphasic patients.

References:
Croteau, C. and G. Le Dorze. (2001). “Spouses’ perception of persons with aphasia” Aphasiology, 15(9), 811-825
Croteau, C. and G. Le Dorze. (2006). “Overprotection, ‘speaking for’, and conversational participation: A study of couples with aphasia.” Aphasiology, 20(2/3/4), 327-336.
Helmick, W., T.S. Watamori and J.M. Palmer. (1976). “Spouses’ understanding of communication disabilities of aphasic patients.” Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders. XLI, 238-243.
Simmons-Mackie, N.N., K.P. Kearns, G. Potechin. (2005). “CAC classics: Treatment of aphasia through family member training.” Aphasiology, 2005, 19(6), 583-593.
Santos, M.E. et al. (1998). “Problems of patients with chronic aphasia: different perspectives of husbands and wives?” Brain Injury. 13(1), 23-29.


 

 
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