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European Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine 2013 August;49(4):473-81


lingua: Inglese

Action observation as a useful approach for enhancing recovery of verb production: new evidence from aphasia

Bonifazi S. 1, Tomaiuolo F. 2, Altoè G. 3, Ceravolo M. G. 1, Provinciali L. 1, Marangolo P. 4

1 Facoltà di Medicina, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy; 2 Unità Cerebrolesioni Acquisite, Auxilium Vitae Volterra, Pisa, Italy; 3 Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università di Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy; 4 IRCCS Fondazione Santa Lucia, Rome, Italy


Backgrounds: Evidence exists that the observation of actions performed by others enhance word retrieval and can be used in aphasia rehabilitation to treat naming impairments.
Aim: The aim of the present study was to assess to what extent action observation treatment may improve verb retrieval in chronic aphasics.
Design: This was an observational study.
Setting: Patients were recruited from the Neurorehabilitation Centre of Ancona Hospital.
Population: Six aphasic patients underwent an intensive language training to improve verb naming.
Methods: Language evaluation was carried out before and after the treatment. A rehabilitation therapy based on observation of actions was administered daily to each patient for two consecutive weeks. Four different rehabilitation procedures were adopted: 1) “observation of action performed by the examiner”; 2) “observation and then execution of action”; 3) “observation of videoclips of actions”; and, as a control condition; 4) “observation of action and execution of meaningless movement”.
Results: In four participants, a significant improvement in verb retrieval was found for the three experimental procedures (χ2 (3)=75.212, P<0.0001), with respect to the control condition. No significant improvement was observed in the two patients with severe deficits in verb semantics (χ2 (3)=0.592, P=0.892).
Conclusions: Action observation therapy may become a useful intervention strategy to promote verb retrieval in aphasic patients.
Clinical Rehabilitation Impact: The observation of videoclips of actions may be an efficacious alternative approach to traditional rehabilitation programs for lexical deficits. This finding endorses the planning of innovative low-cost interventions in language rehabilitation.

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