The Relevance of Context in Understanding the Lived Experience of Aphasia: Lessons from South Africa Purpose: In this paper we describe a study of aphasia in a unique sociocultural context, to show the value of the anthropological perspective for the clinician faced with a diverse caseload. Methods: We present findings of an anthropological study of the experience of aphasia for adults living in Khayelitsha, a ... Article
Article  |   May 01, 2014
The Relevance of Context in Understanding the Lived Experience of Aphasia: Lessons from South Africa
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Carol Legg
    Department of Speech Pathology & Audiology, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Gauteng, South Africa
  • Claire Penn
    Department of Speech Pathology & Audiology, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg Gauteng, South Africa
  • Financial Disclosure: Carol Legg is an Independent Speech and Language Clinician practicing in Cape Town. Claire Penn is the Simonds Hampton Chair of Speech Pathology and Audiology and Director of the Health Communication Research Unit at the University of Witwatersrand. The study that was described in this paper constituted Carol Legg's doctorate through the University of Witwatersrand and was partly funded by the Medical Research Council of South Africa.
    Financial Disclosure: Carol Legg is an Independent Speech and Language Clinician practicing in Cape Town. Claire Penn is the Simonds Hampton Chair of Speech Pathology and Audiology and Director of the Health Communication Research Unit at the University of Witwatersrand. The study that was described in this paper constituted Carol Legg's doctorate through the University of Witwatersrand and was partly funded by the Medical Research Council of South Africa.×
  • Nonfinancial Disclosure: Carol Legg has previously published in the subject area. Claire Penn has previously published in the subject area.
    Nonfinancial Disclosure: Carol Legg has previously published in the subject area. Claire Penn has previously published in the subject area.×
Article Information
International & Global / Language Disorders / Aphasia / Articles
Article   |   May 01, 2014
The Relevance of Context in Understanding the Lived Experience of Aphasia: Lessons from South Africa
SIG 17 Perspectives on Global Issues in Communication Sciences and Related Disorders, May 2014, Vol. 4, 4-11. doi:10.1044/gics4.1.4
SIG 17 Perspectives on Global Issues in Communication Sciences and Related Disorders, May 2014, Vol. 4, 4-11. doi:10.1044/gics4.1.4

Purpose: In this paper we describe a study of aphasia in a unique sociocultural context, to show the value of the anthropological perspective for the clinician faced with a diverse caseload.

Methods: We present findings of an anthropological study of the experience of aphasia for adults living in Khayelitsha, a township on the outskirts of Cape Town, where the isiXhosa speaking residents live in conditions of poverty and where health and social resources are either lacking or in disarray (Legg, 2010). The study involved three years of intermittent fieldwork that included in-depth case studies of five adults living with aphasia in Khayelitsha and sustained contact with a number of healthcare and community institutions.

Results: Interpretations and experiences of aphasia assumed a wider significance than communication disorder and were, essentially, a window onto the sociocultural and economic struggles that beset the lives of our participants. These struggles had profound influences on experiences of aphasia and responses to treatment.

Conclusions: Understanding the unique contextual influences on experiences of aphasia will place the aphasia clinician in a more potent position to develop relevant interventions.

Acknowledgements
The study that we describe in this paper constituted Carol Legg's doctorate and was partly funded by the Medical Research Council of South Africa.
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