Teaching mindfulness meditation to adults with severe speech and physical impairments: An exploratory study

Neuropsychol Rehabil. 2015;25(5):708-32. doi: 10.1080/09602011.2014.970201. Epub 2014 Oct 23.


People with severe speech and physical impairments may benefit from mindfulness meditation training because it has the potential to enhance their ability to cope with anxiety, depression and pain and improve their attentional capacity to use brain-computer interface systems. Seven adults with severe speech and physical impairments (SSPI) - defined as speech that is understood less than 25% of the time and/or severely reduced hand function for writing/typing - participated in this exploratory, uncontrolled intervention study. The objectives were to describe the development and implementation of a six-week mindfulness meditation intervention and to identify feasible outcome measures in this population. The weekly intervention was delivered by an instructor in the participant's home, and participants were encouraged to practise daily using audio recordings. The objective adherence to home practice was 10.2 minutes per day. Exploratory outcome measures were an n-back working memory task, the Attention Process Training-II Attention Questionnaire, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, the Perceived Stress Scale, the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, and a qualitative feedback survey. There were no statistically significant pre-post results in this small sample, yet administration of the measures proved feasible, and qualitative reports were overall positive. Obstacles to teaching mindfulness meditation to persons with SSPI are reported, and solutions are proposed.

Keywords: Communication difficulties; Mindfulness meditation; Psychological factors; Quadriplegia; Quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / complications
  • Brain Diseases / etiology
  • Brain Diseases / therapy*
  • Brain Stem Infarctions / complications
  • Cerebral Palsy / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meditation / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Muscular Dystrophies / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Speech Disorders / therapy*
  • Spinocerebellar Ataxias / complications
  • Treatment Outcome