Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Self managed word finding treatment using a computer for people with aphasia in the longer term post stroke

One third of people have ongoing difficulties with speaking, understanding, reading and writing after a stroke (aphasia). It is difficult to provide face to face therapy  beyond the first few months due to limited resources, despite the fact that some people are known to improve with continued language practice. The CACTUS project (funded by the NIHR Research for Patient Benefit Programme and South Yorkshire CLAHRC) piloted an approach to enable provision of continued therapy for people with aphasia. The approach included: input from a Speech and language therapist to tailor computer exercises to the individual’s needs; independent use of the computer programme StepbyStep©; volunteer support to use the computer and practice new words in everyday conversation.

In the pilot study, 34 people with long standing aphasia were randomised to using StepbyStep© for 5 months or continuing with usual language activities through everyday conversation and support groups. Nearly all (89%) of those eligible for the intervention expressed interest in self-managed word finding training on a computer, suggesting a high level of acceptance of the concept. Of the 16 participants on the project, 10 completed the training per protocol of 20 minute sessions three times per week for five months. The treatment group showed significant improvements in the percentage of words named correctly compared to the control group. The pilot data suggested that this approach is likely to be cost effective and researchers now applying for funding to conduct a larger trial to assess this further. 

[written by Dr Rebecca Palmer, please contact her on for more information]

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