The use of co-speech gestures in patients after total laryngectomy using tracheoesophageal speech.

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Background: Patients after total laryngectomy (TL) lose their natural voice and are assigned to voice restoration and rehabilitation. One of the methods to help restore the voice is tracheoesophageal speech. Various studies have investigated speech outcomes after TL. To our knowledge, no research has yet been done on non-verbal communication after TL in patients using tracheoesophageal speech. Aim/research question: The aim of this current study is to investigate non-verbal communication by exploring the use of co-speech gestures in patients after TL using tracheoesophageal speech. The main research question of this current study will be: How are co-speech gestures used by patients after total laryngectomy using tracheoesophageal speech? Method: To answer this question, annotation of gesture types, functions and timing places of interviews of eight laryngectomized female patients has been performed. Additionally, time sampling of the interviews is done. This time sampling is also applied to a group of healthy controls that have been included. Results: The results show that the gesture type ‘beats’ is used in the highest frequency by the TL patients. Furthermore, the gesture function ‘other’ and timing place ‘other’ are used the most. The results of the annotation show resemblance with the results of the time sampling. The healthy controls show a different distribution of co-speech gestures than the TL patients. Conclusion: Most of the used gestures in TL patients have no semantic content (beats). Due to the fact that ‘other’ was the most used category in both the gesture functions and the timing places, it shows that the used classification of gestures is not fully sufficient for the mapping of co-speech gestures in TL patients. However, the results show that TL patients in this study do make an effort to use co-speech gestures. Further research is necessary to conclude if the use is significant more than in a healthy population. However, this current study does mark a starting point concerning research within this domain.
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