If you or someone you know has aphasia following a stroke, then you might be interested in becoming involved in a new Australia-wide study being led by La Trobe University in Melbourne.
The study, called COMPARE, is comparing the effectiveness of three different kinds of treatments to help people with the condition.
What is aphasia?
Aphasia is a common disability, caused by stroke or other types of damage to the part of the brain that’s responsible for language and communication.
About a third of people living with stroke – approximately 140,000 people in Australia – are affected by aphasia and have difficulty with talking, listening (understanding what others say), reading, writing, using numbers and using gestures.
While aphasia doesn’t affect intelligence, it can make it difficult for someone to show their intelligence, personality and sense of humour. Understandably, it can have a significant impact on day to day functioning, employment and general quality of life.
As the incidence of stroke is increasing in the community – expected to increase by 25 per cent, by 2030 – more people will be living with aphasia and other effects of stroke.
New treatments to improve communication
This nation-wide study being led by La Trobe University’s Associate Professor Miranda Rose, is trialling two new approaches to treatment of aphasia.
Professor Rose says she hopes that these treatments being trialled will improve the communication skills and quality of life for people who are living with aphasia by identifying more targeted treatment options to maximise recovery and communication.
“This is about harnessing the neuroplasticity of the brain and how best to target treatment activities that stimulate neuronal recovery and reorganisation,” she said.
The study is recruiting participants across most states to participate in one of three treatment groups:
- Treatment 1 is called Constraint therapy. This involves a person with aphasia only being allowed to attempt to speak in the therapy sessions.
- Treatment 2 is called – Multi-modal therapy. This allows the participant to speak, read, write, draw and gesture.
- Treatment 3– is the usual care therapy the person with aphasia is receiving in the community.
Participate in the study
If you would like to participate in the study, there are a few criteria you need to meet. The full list is on the study website. However, unsurprisingly, you need to have a medical diagnosis of aphasia; and you need to have had your stroke or brain injury between 6 months and 15 years ago. You can’t have had more than one stroke.
You also need to have spoken English before your stroke or brain injury; be able to manage going to the toilet; be able to attend all study visits; and have a carer or close friend or family member who also can attend your study visits.
All participants in the study will complete an initial period of background assessments to help build a picture of each person’s strengths and struggles with their communication. The assessment appointments can be undertaken in participants’ homes.
The treatments will take place in local community setting and are intensive. They involve a total of 30 hours – spanning five days a week, for two weeks.
After treatment, all participants will have to complete assessments to help the research team determine the effects of treatment. The assessments will occur right after the treatment and then again, approximately 12 weeks later.
For more information or to participate in the trial go to firstname.lastname@example.org