Original Research

The effects of COVID-19 on the rehabilitation of persons with aphasia: A scoping review

Khetsiwe P. Masuku, Gift Khumalo, Nontokozo Shabangu
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 69, No 2 | a920 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v69i2.920 | © 2022 Khetsiwe P. Masuku, Gift Khumalo, Nontokozo Shabangu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 February 2022 | Published: 04 August 2022

About the author(s)

Khetsiwe P. Masuku, Department of Speech Pathology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Gift Khumalo, Department of Speech Pathology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Nontokozo Shabangu, Department of Speech Pathology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The impact of the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic was more pronounced on the well-being of persons with disabilities, especially in low- and middle-income countries. There is documented evidence of the rippling effects of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities. However, not much is known about the impact of COVID-19 on the rehabilitation of persons with aphasia.

Objective: The scoping review explores how COVID-19 affected the rehabilitation of persons living with aphasia.

Method: A scoping review was conducted using Arksey and O’Malley’s framework. A search was conducted on Science Direct, PubMed, Medline, Scopus, ProQuest and Google Scholar, to identify relevant studies published between 2019 and 2022. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: Most studies regarding the effects of COVID-19 on persons living with aphasia were conducted in the United Kingdom. Five themes emerged from the data, namely, (1) negative impact on rehabilitative care, (2) telehealth and its limitations, (3) impact on social participation, (4) compromised caregiver involvement and (5) mental health challenges.

Conclusions: Findings highlight the need for healthcare professionals to pursue innovative ways in which aphasia rehabilitation and conversational support programmes can be made accessible to persons with aphasia, despite the limitations brought about by a pandemic. Telerehabilitation programmes need to be tailored to the needs of persons with aphasia if they are to be successful. This study highlights the importance and need for the prioritisation of mental health services for persons with aphasia and their caregivers during a pandemic.


Keywords

aphasia; COVID-19 pandemic; rehabilitation; telehealth; social participation

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