Background: People with aphasia (PWA) use pantomime, gesture in absence of speech, differently from non-brain-damaged people (NBDP). Aims: To evaluate through an exploratory study the comprehensibility of PWA's pantomimes and to find out whether they can compensate for information PWA are unable to convey in speech.
Methods & Procedures: A total of 273 naïve observers participated in one of two judgement tasks: forced-choice and open-ended questions. These were used to determine the comprehensibility of pantomimes produced to depict objects by PWA as compared with NBDP. Furthermore, we compared the information conveyed in pantomime with the information in speech. We looked into factors influencing pantomime's comprehensibility: individual factors, manner of depiction and information needed to be depicted.
Outcome & Results: Although comprehensibility scores for PWA's pantomimes were lower than for those produced by NBDP, all PWA were able to convey information in pantomime that they could not convey in speech. Comprehensibility of pantomimes was predicted by apraxia. The inability to use the right hand related to slightly lower comprehensibility scores. Objects for which individuals depicted its use were best understood.
Conclusion & Implications: Our findings highlight the potential benefit of pantomime for clinical practice. Pantomimes, even though sometimes impaired, can convey information that PWA cannot convey in speech. Clinical implications are discussed.

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International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders

van Nispen, K., van de Sandt-Koenderman, M., & Krahmer, E. (2017). The comprehensibility of pantomimes produced by people with aphasia. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 53(1), 85–100. doi:10.1111/1460-6984.12328