• aphasia;
  • attunement;
  • closeness;
  • communion;
  • non-verbal communication;
  • sensation

• To illuminate the phenomena of ‘communicating with people with stroke and aphasia without words’, 10 care providers particularly successful at communicating with stroke and aphasia patients who were working at a stroke rehabilitation ward narrated their experiences of communicating with such patients.

• A phenomenological hermeneutic approach, inspired by Ricoeur’s philosophy, was used in the analysis.

• Two main themes were found: facilitating openness and being in wordless communication.

• The care providers sensed the feelings of the patients and experienced similar feelings themselves, thus, the communication is guided by the shared feelings between the care provider and the patient, i.e. communion. For this ‘communication through sensation’ to take place, the following factors were found to be necessary: creative closeness in combination with protective distance; striving for satisfaction and against exhaustion and desperation; meeting the patient halfway to gain understanding; exhibiting attention and accessibility to the patient; and trust and confidence for both care providers and patients.

• The findings were interpreted and discussed in the light of works by Levinas, Lögstrup and Stern.