Demystifying the Complexity of Aphasia Treatment: Application of the Rehabilitation Treatment Specification Systemx

Julius Fridriksson*, Alexandra Basilakos, Mary Boyle, Leora R. Cherney, Gayle DeDe, Jean K. Gordon, Stacy M. Harnish, Elizabeth L. Hoover, William D. Hula, Rebecca Hunting Pompon, Lorelei Phillip Johnson, Swathi Kiran, Laura L. Murray, Miranda L. Rose, Jessica Obermeyer, Christos Salis, Grant M. Walker, Nadine Martin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


A considerable body of research supports the use of behavioral communication treatment as the standard of care for aphasia. In spite of robust progress in clinical aphasiology, many questions regarding optimal care remain unanswered. One of the major challenges to progress in the field is the lack of a common framework to adequately describe individual treatments, which, if available, would allow comparisons across studies as well as improved communication among researchers, clinicians, and other stakeholders. Here, we describe how aphasia treatment approaches can be systematically characterized using the Rehabilitation Treatment Specification System (RTSS). At the core of the RTSS is a tripartite structure that focuses on targets (the behavior that is expected to change as a result of treatment), ingredients (what a clinician does to affect change in the target), and mechanism(s) of action (why a given treatment works by linking the ingredients to the target). Three separate articles in the current issue specifically describe how the RTSS can be used to describe different kinds of aphasia treatment approaches: functional approaches, cognitive-linguistic approaches, and biological approaches. It is our hope that the application of the RTSS in clinical aphasiology will improve communication in published studies, grant proposals, and in the clinical care of persons with aphasia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)574-580
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of physical medicine and rehabilitation
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Aphasia
  • Rehabilitation
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rehabilitation
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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