School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

The Tavistock Aphasia Centre

The Tavistock Aphasia Centre

The Aphasia Centre provides intensive speech and language therapy for people with aphasia.

About

The North East Aphasia Centre at Newcastle University, supported in part by the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia, celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2009.

Over the last ten years..

through a highly successful collaboration with the local SLT community, it has provided intensive speech and language therapy to people with aphasia, combining both group and individual therapy.

Many specialist speech and language therapists from both the university and local services have contributed to the Centre and this has provided a wealth of opportunity to take forward our research into aphasia whilst sharing ideas about assessment, therapy and how we evaluate therapy effects

Research

Aphasia research in Newcastle is focused around several core strands.

Current activity

 revolve around issues of elucidating processing models for language, of developing and validating new assessments, of evaluating therapy, and of working with people with aphasia to identify the important questions. Julie Morris and David Howard, together with Frauke Buerk, are currently exploring semantic processing in aphasia, particularly what therapy techniques are effective and what patterns of generalisation we observe. David’s research, in particular, revolves around his interest in the methodological questions about how therapy studies should be analysed and how, in evidence-based practice, evidence should be weighed and evaluated. The underlying motivation for this research is that data, when used carefully, from both non-aphasic people and people with aphasia, and from therapy studies from both individual participants and groups of subjects, can yield information about language processing that will result both in better theoretical understanding, in better assessment, and in better treatment of people with aphasia.

Janet Webster's research is currently focusing predominantly on verb and sentence processing, with particular emphasis on developing assessments that help us understand the nature of people's difficulties and investigating the efficacy of therapy targeting verb and sentence production.

Christos Salis, David Howard and Faustina Hwang, (University of Reading) are investigating the effectiveness of a novel short-term memory (STM) training for aphasia and whether it improves everyday communication (funder: Dunhill Medical Trust). People with aphasia receive computerised STM training via a computer operated by a clinician, focusing on retention of sets of spoken words. Language, STM and everyday communication skills will be evaluated before and after training

The team, as a whole, is committed to combining approaches in therapy into coordinated holistic therapy which draws on psycholinguistic, social and interactional models.

Current PhD projects

A range of interesting PhD projects also abound. Fiona Menger has recently started a Stroke Association funded PhD considering how we best exploit all the technological advances when working with people with aphasia. Adel Fahad Al Jadaan is designing a measure to investigate the quality of life in people with aphasia in Saudi Arabia, considering the impact of cultural and religious traditions. Natalie Wang’s project is looking at learning in people with aphasia. Cecilia Mancini is investigating the comprehension and production of pronominal and anaphoric structures.

There are also a number of researchers who have recently completed their PhD research. Heather Waldron, funded by the Stroke Association, has recently completed her study, with a focus on therapy for people with phonological assembly difficulties. Christopher Plant explored noun and verb organisation in the mental lexicon and the impact on treatment and generalisation in word-retrieval therapy for aphasia. Sonja Turner explored conversation partner training, exploring what clinicians look for in deciding candidates for training.

Students interested in pursuing research into aphasia at an advanced level are encouraged to contact us for informal discussion.

And other strands…

And aphasia research isn’t all that happens in Newcastle. Nick Miller, alongside his interest in foreign accent syndrome, has an extensive programme of work around communication changes in Parkinson's disease. He and his team have been looking at the nature and prevalence of speech and swallowing changes in Parkinson's, especially trying to fill in our knowledge about how the profile of change and support needs evolve over the course of the condition. The team has had a special emphasis on highlighting changes from the point of view of the person with PD and their families. A further strand of work involves pursuing studies looking at the nature and underlying causes of apraxia of speech. Alongside previous studies of the clinical manifestations, Nick, Nicole Lallini and David Howard have commenced a series of cross language studies of apraxia of speech to gain more insights into the motor versus phonology debate around the disorder. Nicole is also currently working on the vast data collected during her PhD focusing on the effect of phonological neighbourhood density and phonotactic probability on output accuracy in people with acquired output impairment. As well as addressing crucial methodological controversies, Nicole’s work has direct relevance to clinical issues in assessment and treatment of speech disorders.

Christos Salis and Catherine Foy ( Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People, Surrey) are investigating the extent to which language skills in healthy older adults are influenced by memory and attention. This project will improve our understanding of how language ability is influenced by the normal ageing process, informing the development of assessment and treatment approaches for people presenting with language deficits of various aetiologies.

The team at Newcastle is completed by our Clinical Educators, Helen Nazlie, Jennifer Vigouroux and Rose Hilton, who contribute to the complex organisation of student training in the Aphasia Centre

While we remain a highly active research group, we are also actively involved with people with aphasia. This is shown through our work with the charity, North East Trust for Aphasia (NETA), whose trustees are predominantly people with aphasia and their carers, in the NETA Aphasia Support Centre. Managed by Rose Hilton, the Support Centre is run within the same premises, and offers longer term support where activities are led by the users. Again, the NETA Aphasia Support Centre is now firmly embedded within the local SLT services who are key stakeholders and who will play a large part, along with its members, in shaping its future. Our involvement extends to all of our therapy and research work, where user groups are consulted on changes, developments and projects. In celebration of and to develop our engagement with people with aphasia, we have recently received funding to develop a social meeting place (the Aphasia Café) for people with aphasia. This will compliment our existing work.

Resources

Resources from the aphasia team at Newcastle University

  1. Newcastle University Aphasia Therapy Resources, in association with the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia. 
    The Newcastle University Aphasia Therapy Resources are based on extensive experience within the Tavistock Aphasia Centre based at Newcastle University. They draw on research into aphasia and aphasia therapy combined with the expert knowledge of a large group of specialist speech and language therapists. We are excited to be able to share some of the learning about aphasia therapy with the wider world and make these high quality resources available to all. 
    Click here for the therapy resources

  2. An audit checklist for exploring provision for relatives and carers of people with aphasia, in association with NETA. 
    The checklist encapsulates recommendations in a functional format, enabling services to look at their care pathway, develop interventions, and monitor whether their provision is perceived by relatives as helpful. It is a flexible tool, that can be used selectively to explore relatives’ perceptions of service provision in the clinical situation, or in research.
    Click here for the Audit checklist

Collaboration

We aim to be an integral part of both the local aphasia community and the wider professional community. To this end we collaborate with several groups including local speech and language therapists, charities including the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia and NETA and of course people with aphasia themselves.

With people with aphasia

We aim to put people with aphasia at the heart of the Centre. Our involvement extends to all of our therapy and research work, where groups of people with aphasia are consulted on changes, developments and projects. We have set up a research user group (RUG) and are consulting on a planned project. The group will form part of the project management. We also involve people with aphasia directly in our teaching about aphasia. In celebration of and to develop our engagement with people with aphasia, we have recently received funding to develop a social meeting place (the Aphasia Café) for people with aphasia. This complements our existing work. This is used by both the Aphasia Centre and by NETA, a charity whose trustees are predominantly people with aphasia and their families.

With speech and language therapists in the NHS

We work closely with speech and language therapists in the local area to ensure the Aphasia Centre works within the care pathways for people with aphasia in the region. A yearly consultation group with managers takes place to facilitate this. We receive a high number of highly appropriate referrals each year and are well supported by the local services. Many therapists have taken the opportunity to visit us either on observational or working placement as part of their continuing professional development.

The opportunity for university clinicians and NHS therapists to work together in this way provides an exchange of ideas and work practices to ensure the best possible services for people with aphasia.

If you are interested in visiting the Centre, please contact us.

With the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia

We have been strongly supported by the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia. They provided initial set up and running costs for the Aphasia Centre and have continue to be involved and interested in the Aphasia Centre.

They have also funded the development of the Newcastle University Aphasia Therapy Resources.

With NETA: The North East Trust for Aphasia

We work closely with NETA, a dynamic local charity set up by people with aphasia for people with aphasia. NETA offers longer term support for people with aphasia and their families. Two of our speech and language therapists are trustees of the organisation and we maintain a close working relationship.

The NETA Aphasia Support Centre, managed by Rose Hilton, is run within the same premises as the Aphasia Centre, and offers longer term support where activities are led by the users.  The NETA Aphasia Support Centre is now firmly embedded within the local SLT services who are key stakeholders and who will play a large part, along with its members, in shaping its future.

Training

The Centre provides placements for students training to be speech and language therapists.

 Every student in the programme at Newcastle University undertakes at least one placement in the Centre during their education.  Students are supervised closely by experienced speech and language therapists. This allows us:

  • To provide an excellent clinical teaching facility for undergraduate and postgraduate students at Newcastle University
  • To demonstrate explicit links between our research and clinical teaching
  • To provide high quality intensive speech and language therapy for people with aphasia which is theoretically motivated

More information on the programmes cam be found on the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences website.

Contact Us

Several members of University staff are involved in the Centre.

It is directed by Julie Morris and the following Lecturers and Clinical Educators are also involved: David Howard, Nicole Lallini, Nick Miller, Helen Nazlie, Janet Webster.

If you wish to contact us, we are located at:

The Tavistock Aphasia Centre
Speech and Language Sciences
Newcastle University
Queen Victoria Road
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE1 7RU

Email: aphasia@ncl.ac.uk
Telephone:
 0191 208 8550