Dr Joanne Steel
School of Humanities and Social Science (Speech Pathology)
- Phone:+61 2 405 53011
Dr Joanne Steel, PhD, is a certified practising speech pathologist (CPSP) and lecturer in adult neurogenic communication disability at the University of Newcastle. Jo’s research interest is the assessment and management of cognitive and social communication disorders after traumatic brain injury (TBI) particularly for people with severe injury who are in the early stages of recovery. In 2015, Jo completed her PhD investigating cognitive communication assessment and recovery during post-traumatic amnesia (PTA). Her goal has been to determine the best ways to monitor communication recovery after TBI, to help speech pathologists plan services and to inform patients and families about communication recovery. The results of her PhD indicated that assessment of cognitive communication during PTA and post-acute stages is feasible and useful, particularly by examining the patient’s discourse and interactional skills. Employing methods used in this research, it is possible to determine the patient’s strengths and weaknesses in communication from a very early stage after injury. Jo’s research has informed clinical practice in this area.
Jo’s recent work has focused on improving narrative discourse (e.g. anecdotes, telling stories, giving explanations) for people with TBI. Being able to tell a story is a critical part of everyday social interaction, and impairment in this ability, which is common after TBI, has a devastating effect on the person's relationships and employment. This research has examined optimal and innovative assessment methods, and more recently has focused on types of interventions to treat narratives after TBI.
In 2017 Jo was a co-founder of BRAINSPaN, the Brain Impairment Clinician and Researcher Peer Network, which is a multidisciplinary network of clinicians and researchers in the brain impairment (BI) field in Australia (https://www.assbi.com.au/BrainSPan). The group was set up to share knowledge and skills between peers in brain injury and encourage translation of research findings into clinical practice. BRAINSPaN now has over 700 members and has been successful for skill-building, knowledge translation and research dissemination.
Jo has previously worked on an NHMRC funded project at the University of Technology, Sydney as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow, and has clinical experience working with adults with acquired brain injury.
- Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle
- Bachelor of Speech Pathology (Honours), University of Newcastle
- Adult neurogenic communication disability
- Cognitive communication
- Discourse analysis
- Social communication
- Traumatic brain injury
Fields of Research
|170299||Cognitive Sciences not elsewhere classified||60|
|200499||Linguistics not elsewhere classified||40|
|Title||Organisation / Department|
|Lecturer||University of Newcastle
School of Humanities and Social Science
University of Newcastle
Adult Speech and Language
School of Humanities and Social Science - Faculty of Education and Arts - The University of Newcastle
|Course Coordinator, Lecturer, Tutor||27/01/2019 - 27/06/2019|
The University of Newcastle
|Course coordinator||29/07/2019 - 8/11/2019|
For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.
Journal article (11 outputs)
Steel J, Togher L, 'Social communication assessment after traumatic brain injury: a narrative review of innovations in pragmatic and discourse assessment methods', BRAIN INJURY, 33 48-61 (2019)
Steel J, Georgiou A, Balandin S, Hill S, Worrall L, Hemsley B, 'A content analysis of documentation on communication disability in hospital progress notes: diagnosis, function, and patient safety', CLINICAL REHABILITATION, 33 943-956 (2019)
Hemsley B, Steel J, Sheppard JJ, Malandraki GA, Bryant L, Balandin S, 'Dying for a meal: An integrative review of characteristics of choking incidents and recommendations to prevent fatal and nonfatal choking across populations', American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 28 1283-1297 (2019) [C1]
© 2019 American 1000 Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to conduct an integrative review of original research, across adult populations re... [more]
© 2019 American 1000 Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to conduct an integrative review of original research, across adult populations relating to fatal or nonfatal choking on food, to understand ways to respond to and prevent choking incidents. Method: Four scientific databases (CINAHL, Medline, Web of Science, and EMBASE) were searched for original peerreviewed research relating to fatal or nonfatal choking on foods. Data were extracted on study characteristics; factors leading up to, events at the time of, and actions taken after the choking incident; and impacts of choking incidents. An integrative review of the findings across studies identified several risk factors and recommendations to reduce the risk of choking. Results: In total, 52 studies met the criteria for inclusion in this review, of which 31 were quantitative, 17 were qualitative, and 4 were of a mixed methods design. Studies reported the observations and narratives of bystanders or researchers, or else were large-scale autopsy studies, and included both the general public and people at risk of dysphagia. A range of food types were involved, and several actions were reported in response to food choking. Strategies to reduce the risk of choking were identified in the studies and are presented in 5 main categories. Conclusions: Factors leading up to choking incidents extend well beyond the individual to the environment for mealtimes; the provision of appropriate mealtime assistance and oral care; and regular monitoring of general health, oral health, and medications. Bystanders¿ increased awareness and knowledge of how to respond to choking are vital. The results of this review could be used to inform service policy and training, for individuals at risk of choking, the people who support them, and the general public. Further research is needed to explore choking prevention and airway protection in individuals with dysphagia.
Steel J, Ferguson A, Spencer E, Togher L, 'Social communication during post-traumatic amnesia and the post-acute period after traumatic brain injury', Brain Injury, 31 1320-1330 (2017) [C1]
Steel J, Ferguson A, Spencer E, Togher L, 'Language and cognitive communication disorder during post-traumatic amnesia: Profiles of recovery after TBI from three cases', Brain Injury, 31 1889-1902 (2017) [C1]
© 2017 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Background: There has been limited empirical speech¿language pathology (SLP) study of language and cognitive communication during post-tr... [more]
© 2017 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. Background: There has been limited empirical speech¿language pathology (SLP) study of language and cognitive communication during post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) and the early stages after TBI. The purpose of the current research was to explore the potential means and utility of assessing cognitive communication during PTA and the post-acute recovery period. Method: This research used a longitudinal mixed methods design to describe language and cognitive communication assessment and recovery profiles of three patients with TBI. Cognitive communication was assessed with repeated standardised and non-standardised methods during PTA (rated with Westmead PTA Scale) and at follow-up 3¿months after PTA emergence. Results: All participants demonstrated a profile of language and cognitive communication strengths and weaknesses during PTA and the post-acute period, also evident at follow-up. Improvement occurred gradually throughout PTA, although with individual fluctuation across test occasions. There was no marked change in communication function immediately before and after PTA emergence, indicating that cognitive communication ability and those functions measured on the Westmead PTA Scale (memory and orientation) did not recover at the same rate. Conclusion: It was feasible to assess language and cognitive communication throughout PTA and the post-acute period, and early assessment results were relevant to the patient¿s ongoing communicative function. It is suggested that early and repeated SLP assessment may contribute to the prediction of persisting cognitive communication issues.
Hemsley B, Georgiou A, Hill S, Rollo M, Steel J, Balandin S, 'An Integrative Review of Patient Safety in Studies on the Care and Safety of Patients with Communication Disabilities in Hospital. Patient Education and Counseling.', Patient Education and Counseling, 99 501-511 (2016) [C1]
Steel J, Ferguson A, Spencer E, Togher L, 'Speech-language pathologists' perspectives on cognitive communication assessment during post-traumatic amnesia', BRAIN INJURY, 30 1131-1142 (2016)
Steel J, Ferguson A, Spencer E, Togher L, 'Speech-language pathologists perspectives on cognitive communication assessment during post-traumatic amnesia', Brain Injury, 30 1131-1142 (2016) [C1]
Steel J, Ferguson A, Spencer E, Togher L, 'Language and cognitive communication during post-traumatic amnesia: A critical synthesis', NeuroRehabilitation, 37 221-234 (2015) [C1]
© 2015 - IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved. BACKGROUND: There is minimal speech pathology literature on communication presentation during post-traumatic amnesia (PTA)... [more]
© 2015 - IOS Press and the authors. All rights reserved. BACKGROUND: There is minimal speech pathology literature on communication presentation during post-traumatic amnesia (PTA) and the early recovery period after traumatic brain injury. While a body of research reports on other cognitive and behavioural functions during PTA, language and/or cognitive communication are not routinely the primary focus of current research literature. OBJECTIVE: This critical synthesis provides an overview of research to date on communication during PTA to inform speech pathology assessment practice and to assist with information provision to the multidisciplinary team and family members. METHODS: A search was conducted of studies reporting on language, cognition, and cognitive communication during the acute, inpatient and early recovery period after TBI. These were examined for relevance to speech pathology practice during PTA and acute confusional state. RESULTS: Historic and recent literature has described types of language and communication impairment during PTA and early recovery after TBI. Recently, aspects of communication impairment during PTA have been found relevant for outcome prediction. Few studies were found originating from speech pathology on communication during PTA. CONCLUSIONS: Communication disruption forms a key feature of PTA. Existing literature indicates that speech pathology monitoring of communication during PTA may be of benefit as part of multidisciplinary team management during early recovery.
Steel J, Ferguson A, Spencer E, Togher L, 'Speech pathologists' current practice with cognitive-communication assessment during post-traumatic amnesia: A survey', BRAIN INJURY, 27 819-830 (2013) [C1]
|Show 8 more journal articles|
Conference (13 outputs)
|2019||Steel J, Togher L, 'Social communication assessment for clinical practice: A review of innovative standardised tools and discourse assessment methods', Social communication assessment for clinical practice: A review of innovative standardised tools and discourse assessment methods, Wellington, NZ (2019)|
|2018||Hemsley B, Sheppard JJ, Steel J, Bryant L, Balandin S, 'Dying for a Meal: Fatal & Non-Fatal Choking Incidents Across Populations.', Boston, MA, USA (2018)|
|2017||Steel J, Togher L, 'Translating innovations in discourse assessment: A practical guide for assessment of cognitive and social communication in adults with ABI', Melbourne, Australia (2017)|
Hemsley BA, Georgiou A, Balandin S, Hill S, Rollo M, Steel J, 'Improving the care and safety of adults with severe communication disability in hospital: Applying the generic model of patient safety', 4th Annual NHMRC Symposium on Research Translation jointly with CIPHER, Sydney, NSW (2015) [E3]
Steel J, Ferguson A, Spencer E, Togher L, 'Cognitive communication assessment during post-traumatic amnesia', Monterey, CA (2015) [E3]
|Show 10 more conferences|
Thesis / Dissertation (1 outputs)
|2015||Steel J, Speech pathology assessment of cognitive communication during early recovery following traumatic brain injury, University of Newcastle (2015)|
Grants and Funding
|Number of grants||1|
Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.
20191 grants / $1,500
Funding body: Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle
|Funding body||Faculty of Education and Arts, University of Newcastle|
|Scheme||FEDUA Conference Travel Grant|
|Type Of Funding||Internal|
Number of supervisions
|Commenced||Level of Study||Research Title||Program||Supervisor Type|
|2018||PhD||Study of Discourse for Linguistic Analysis of a Healthy Ageing Population using Computerized Methods||PhD (Speech Pathology), Faculty of Education and Arts, The University of Newcastle||Co-Supervisor|
Dr Joanne Steel
Lecturer, Speech Pathology
School of Humanities and Social Science
Faculty of Education and Arts