Constraint-induced aphasia therapy following sub-acute stroke: a single-blind, randomised clinical trial of a modified therapy schedule

Almut Sickert, Lutz-Christian Anders, Thomas F Münte, Michael Sailer
Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry 2014, 85 (1): 51-5

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The trend towards a shorter stay in rehabilitation clinic has implications for future language therapy. Constraint-induced aphasia therapy (CIAT) is administered 3 h per day for a total of 30 h of treatment. It was evaluated for patients with chronic aphasia. In the present study we investigated the efficacy of a modified CIAT schedule and included patients with sub-acute stroke. We conducted a randomised, single-blind, parallel-group study. The results were compared to those of patients who received identically intensive treatment focusing on conventional aphasia therapy.

METHODS: Fifty patients were treated with our modified version of CIAT and 50 received a standard aphasia therapy at the same intensity and duration. Inclusion criteria were clinical diagnosis of first-ever stroke, aphasia in the sub-acute stage and German speakers. Language function was evaluated using the Aachen Aphasia Test and the Communicative Activity Log directly before therapy onset, after the training period and at 8-week and 1-year follow-ups.

RESULTS: Patients of both groups improved significantly in all sub-tests of the Aachen Aphasia Test Battery. The improvements remained stable over a 1-year follow-up period. Patients and relatives of both groups rated daily communication as significantly improved after therapy.

CONCLUSIONS: Both CIAT and conventional therapy performed with equal intensity are efficacious methods for patients with sub-acute aphasia. The modified CIAT schedule is practical in an everyday therapeutic setting. Our results indicate that a short-term intensive therapy schedule in the early aphasia stage leads to substantial improvements in language functions.


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