Authors: Furnas DW, Edmonds LA
Title: The effect of computerised Verb Network Strengthening Treatment on lexical retrieval in aphasia
Source: Aphasiology 2014 28(4): 401-420
Year: 2014
Research Design: Single Case Design

Background: A number of computerised treatments have been developed for aphasia, but few have remediated typing, an important functional task, and/or been implemented over the Internet via teletherapy, which can increase access to therapeutic services. The current study created a computerised version of Verb Network Strengthening Treatment (VNeST) and administered it via telerehabilitation over the Internet. VNeST is a semantic treatment which seeks to improve lexical retrieval of words through the conceptual connection between verbs and thematic roles. Previous iterations of VNeST have shown improvement in both spoken and written lexical retrieval for people with moderate and moderate-to-severe aphasia. Aims: This study investigates changes to lexical retrieval with four hierarchical outcome measures. The research questions were: Does treatment using Computerised VNeST (VNeST-C) result in pre- to post-treatment increases in: (1) spoken and typed lexical retrieval of trained (e.g., The farmer is weighing the apples.) and untrained words (e.g., The carpenter is measuring the lumber.) in a picture description task, (2) untreated single-word naming accuracy of nouns and verbs in spoken and typed modalities, (3) spoken and typed lexical retrieval as measured by informative words, efficiency of production and complete utterances within discourse, and (4) standardised measures of cognitive and language abilities? Methods & Procedures: Two people with aphasia were treated three times per week for 8 weeks using the VNeST-C program. A single-subject experimental design was used to evaluate changes in trained and untrained stimuli and tasks. Additional pre-treatment and post-treatment testing was also conducted.Outcomes & Results: Results indicate improvements on lexical retrieval during sentence production of trained and untrained stimuli. Additional improvement was observed for single-word naming of untrained nouns and verbs in spoken and typed modalities and standardised measures of aphasia and writing-by-hand. Limited generalisation to discourse was also observed, including a general increase in word output and decrease in typed neologisms. Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that the VNeST-C program and protocol have promise as a broadly generalising treatment for people with aphasia. With refinement of duration and intensity of the protocol, it may be a viable option for treating aphasia.

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