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Word Copy: Retraining Writing Abilities with Letter Tiles

Posted by Constant Therapy
Constant Therapy

Learn about Word Copy, and the evidence that shows how this Constant Therapy task can retrain writing abilities.

Why is the Word Copy task from Constant Therapy so important?

We use the written word as a form of communication constantly – and often we take it for granted until it becomes difficult. We use it to write notes to each other, to write post-it note reminders, to sign our names, and to leave sweet (or nagging) notes for significant others. We also use writing a great deal on the computer in today’s world, using it to write emails, essays, journals, social media posts, or to search for things on the Internet.

After a stroke or other brain trauma, writing is often affected, and not just in terms of being able to hold a pen or a pencil (though this may be an issue on top of everything). The actual mental process of finding the correct letter and then putting those letters into words can be extremely challenging for someone whose brain has suffered an injury. Sometimes it can be hard to sound out words to write them; this is a complex process if you think about it. You have to:

  1. identify the individual sound in a word
  2. recall the letter that matches that sound (and keep in mind, sometimes there are multiple letters or letter combinations that can make that sound, like “k” vs. “c”)
  3. recall any odd spellings associated with this particular word (is the /f/ sound in “phone” spelled with an “f” or “ph”? which version of “there/their/they’re” do you want?)
  4. do this again and again until you’ve formed a full word
  5. and then again until you form a sentence or paragraph or essay or e-mail
  6. and then edit.

Writing is complicated! So it’s no surprise that this can be a tricky process, which may break down at any level. This is called “agraphia”, or the pathological loss of the ability to write.

Constant Therapy has several writing tasks geared at improving writing ability, including “Word Copy”, the topic of today’s blog. This process is (as always with Constant Therapy tasks) evidence-based. In this task, you are provided with a word (there are multiple levels with progressively longer and more complex words) and many letter tiles next to the word. You then drag the proper letters up to their appropriate slots. You can also have the word read aloud to you. There’s a similar task, Word Copy Completion, where you’re given some of the letters already placed above the target word for you.

We want you to know that your therapy with us is evidence-based and research proven. Here are a few scientific papers summarized that support the use of Word Copy for improving writing ability:

Beeson, P.M., F.M. Hirsch, and M.A. Rewega, Successful single-word writing treatment: Experimental analyses of four cases. Aphasiology, 2002. 16(4-6): p. 473-491.

  • Subjects: 4 aphasia patients with severe agraphia
  • Big Take Home: even patients who may still have severe verbal impairments and who may be many years post stroke can still improve their writing abilities!

Ball, A.L., et al., Modified ACT and CART in severe aphasia. Aphasiology, 2011. 25(6-7): p. 836-848.

  • Subjects: 3 patients with aphasia and Apraxia of Speech
  • Big Take Home: in this study, the authors used word copy along with verbal repeating of words. The authors saw improvement, and actually found some evidence that word copy may improve written naming skills in persons with severe aphasia! Pretty cool, right?!

Beeson, P.M. and H. Egnor, Combining treatment for written and spoken naming. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 2006. 12(6): p. 816-827.

  • Subjects: 2 moderate aphasia patients with severe spelling impairments
  • Big Take Home: word copy along with repetition of words provides greater benefit to patients if there is some residual phonological (letter naming, rhyming, letter-sound matching, blending, etc.) ability; treatment stimulates links between orthography (spelling) and phonology (sounds)

Robson, J., et al., Enhancing communication in jargon aphasia: a small group study of writing therapy. Int J Lang Commun Disord, 2001. 36(4): p. 471-88.

  • Subjects: 10 jargon aphasia patients
  • Big Take Home: in this study, participants did word copy, word completion, and written word naming, as well as “message therapy”, where words were tied to functional messages and then communicated to a partner. Patients improved in their written naming, and in the way that they used writing functionally.

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Constant Therapy is an award-winning cognitive and speech therapy app, created for survivors of stroke, brain injury, and other neurogenic disorders.

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