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Journal Article

Efficacy of intensive aphasia therapy in patients with chronic stroke: A randomised controlled trial


Stahl,  Benjamin
Department of Neurology, Charité University Medicine Berlin, Germany;
Department of Neurology, University Medicine of Greifswald, Germany;
Department Neurophysics (Weiskopf), MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;
Psychologische Hochschule Berlin, Germany;

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Stahl, B., Mohr, B., Büscher, V., Dreyer, F. R., Lucchese, G., & Pulvermüller, F. (2018). Efficacy of intensive aphasia therapy in patients with chronic stroke: A randomised controlled trial. Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, 89(6), 586-592. doi:10.1136/jnnp-2017-315962.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002E-30BA-6
Objective. Recent evidence has fuelled the debate on the role of massed practice in the rehabilitation of chronic post-stroke aphasia. Here, we further determined the optimal daily dosage and total duration of intensive speech-language therapy. Methods. Individuals with chronic aphasia more than 1 year post-stroke received Intensive Language-Action Therapy in a randomised, parallel-group, blinded-assessment, controlled trial. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two outpatient groups who engaged in either highly-intensive practice (Group I: 4 hours daily) or moderately-intensive practice (Group II: 2 hours daily). Both groups went through an initial waiting period and two successive training intervals. Each phase lasted 2 weeks. Co-primary endpoints were defined after each training interval. Results. Thirty patients—15 per group—completed the study. A primary outcome measure (Aachen Aphasia Test) revealed no gains in language performance after the waiting period, but indicated significant progress after each training interval (gradual 2-week t-score change [CI]: 1.7 [±0.4]; 0.6 [±0.5]), independent of the intensity level applied (4-week change in Group I: 2.4 [±1.2]; in Group II: 2.2 [±0.8]). A secondary outcome measure (Action Communication Test) confirmed these findings in the waiting period and in the first training interval. In the second training interval, however, only patients with moderately-intensive practice continued to make progress (Time-by-Group interaction: P=0.009, η2=0.13). Conclusions. Our results suggest no added value from more than 2 hours of daily speech-language therapy within 4 weeks. Instead, these results demonstrate that even a small 2-week increase in treatment duration contributes substantially to recovery from chronic post-stroke aphasia.