Self-Delivered Speech Therapy May Be an Option for Aphasia in Stroke

by VocoVision on July 31, 2015

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self delivered speech therapy teletherapyAccording to a new pilot study, stroke patients suffering from aphasia significantly improved language scores by using a tablet application every day. Aphasia is the result of damage to the areas of the brain that contain language. It may cause difficulty in speaking, listening, as well as reading and writing, but will not affect intelligence. Those with aphasia may also experience other issues, such as apraxia, dysgraphia, and issues with swallowing.

The study, conducted by the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, concluded that self delivered programs could be an effective and affordable way to ensure that chronic stroke patients have access to the regular high dose speech therapy they need.

Because speech therapy is highly labor-intensive, the program would not replace speech therapists, but instead complement them.  Patients could work with a speech therapist to set up the exercises on the tablet and do them as homework between sessions. This approach could also work well in teletherapy, where the patient and speech therapist meet virtually.

Aphasia in Stroke and Daily Therapy

The intensity of speech therapy is important for stroke patients suffering from aphasia, but constraints on the availability of a speech therapist may not allow for daily sessions. With the use of the self delivered speech therapy, speech therapists can continue to serve a growing population of patients who need them, without sacrificing the quality of care and the intensity of therapy required.

Brielle Stark, a PhD student involved in the study, said that about 33% of patients who suffer from a stroke also develop aphasia. And of the patients who develop the aphasia, only about 20% of them fully recover because the condition becomes chronic. That’s why daily therapy would provide better treatment outcomes for patients.

United Kingdom and the United States

Though the study is based out of the United Kingdom, the situation in the United States is similar. Patients in the UK are waiting up to six months to receive therapy, and because of the therapist shortage in the US, patients here are also waiting a significant length of time to get the assistance they need.

The study was designed as a proof-of-concept study to determine whether or not it would be feasible to continue with a larger scale clinical study. By working with a telespeech therapist, patients can learn the daily exercises they can best benefit from. They will get treatment faster than waiting for face-to-face sessions with a therapist, and in the end, have a better shot at full recovery.

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