Design and methods of a randomized controlled trial on early speech and language therapy in patients with acute stroke and aphasia

A C Laska, T Kahan, A Hellblom, V Murray, M von Arbin
Topics in Stroke Rehabilitation 2008, 15 (3): 256-61

PURPOSE: Most clinicians would recommend speech and language therapy (SLT) for aphasic patients. The question of when and for how long SLT should be administered still remains controversial. The aim of this trial is to evaluate the efficacy of early SLT in patients with acute stroke and aphasia in a randomized controlled trial. This report will present design and methods and discuss feasibility.

METHOD: Consecutive patients with first ever ischemic stroke and aphasia are assessed by the Amsterdam-Nijmegen Everyday Language Test (ANELT) and a short version of the Norsk Grunntest for Afasi. The treatment is language enrichment therapy, and the therapy is given 45 min/day for 15 weekdays. The primary outcome is the difference in the degree of aphasia between the SLT treated group and the control group measured by ANELT at 3 weeks.

RESULTS: Around 10% of acute consecutive patients with aphasia are included. Of the first 79 included patients, 86% have completed the study according to protocol. We intend to include 125 patients, which provide sufficient statistical power to detect a clinically significant difference in the degree of aphasia.

CONCLUSION: It is feasible to conduct a randomized controlled study on very early SLT for acute aphasic patients.


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