Background: Left hemisphere stroke often causes a severe communication disorder that is usually attributed to aphasia. While aphasia refers to linguistic problems, communication is also accomplished by voluntarily articulate and gestural movements, which may be compromised due to apraxia. Along with aphasia, apraxia is a common disorder in left hemisphere stroke, which in severe cases can limit the use of verbal and nonverbal communication methods. The discussion about apraxia from a communicative perspective is still scarce, although the disorder is regularly experienced among left hemisphere stroke patients with aphasia. The rehabilitation of the disorder in severe apraxia-aphasia is challenging and recovery is slow. Aims: The purpose of this study is to provide an overview of the research on long-term recovery from apraxia and to discuss the meaning of these findings in observing the recovery of communication abilities in a person with a severe apraxia-aphasia. The search was not restricted to any specific type of apraxia, as this review assumes that communication may be influenced by apraxia in its different manifestations. The review is based on a systematic literature search, which includes English-language studies retrieved from the databases of Ovid Medline, PsycINFO, and Scopus. Main Contribution: Seven long-term follow-up studies of apraxia were found; one case study of apraxia of speech (AOS), four group studies of ideomotor apraxia (IMA), one case study of IMA (and aphasia), and one group study of limb apraxia. Conclusions: The reviewed group studies of patients with left hemisphere stroke indicate that apraxia is a persistent disorder, but the steepest recovery occurs within the first few months post-stroke. Imitation skills and actions involving real-tool use in activities of daily functions show the best recovery. Real-tool use also continues to improve longer, while recovery of gesturing after verbal command may not show clear signs of recovery in the chronic stage post-stroke. There is some evidence that the pace of recovery from oral apraxia and limb apraxia is comparable, and recovery from apraxia and aphasia would not correlate. Some of the studies used only imitation to assess changes in gesturing, which cannot be regarded as an ecologically valid measure to compare gesturing in natural communicative situations or even gesturing after verbal command. Finally, no follow-up studies were found that would have discussed apraxia from a communicative perspective. Overall, the field is lacking research on long-term follow-up of patients with apraxic-aphasic disorder.
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