Authors: Rubi-Fessen I, Hartmann A, Huber W, Fimm B, Rommel T, Thiel A, Heiss WD
Title: Add-on Effects of Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Subacute Aphasia Therapy: Enhanced Improvement of Functional Communication and Basic Linguistic Skills. A Randomized Controlled Study
Source: Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation 2015 96(11): 1935-1944.e2
Year: 2015
Research Design: Randomised Controlled Trial
Rating Score: 07/10
This rating is confirmed
Eligibility specified - Y
Random allocation - Y
Concealed allocation - Y
Baseline comparability - Y
Blind subjects - N
Blind therapists - Y
Blind assessors - Y
Adequate follow-up - N
Intention-to-treat analysis - N
Between-group comparisons - Y
Point estimates and variability - Y

Objective: To determine to what extent repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) combined with speech and language therapy improves functional communication and basic linguistic skills of individuals with subacute aphasia. Design:Randomized, blinded, and sham-controlled study. Setting:Neurologic rehabilitation hospital. Participants: Participants (N=30) with subacute aphasia after stroke. Interventions: During a 2-week treatment period, half of the participants received 10 sessions of 20-minute inhibitory 1-Hz rTMS over the right inferior frontal gyrus (Brodmann area 45), and the other half received sham stimulation. Directly thereafter, all the participants underwent 45 minutes of speech and language therapy. Main Outcome Measures: Aachen Aphasia Test, Amsterdam-Nijmegen Everyday Language Test (ANELT), a naming screening, and subscales of the FIM, all assessed the day before and the day after treatment period. Results: The participants who received real rTMS significantly improved with respect to all 10 measures of basic linguistic skills and functional communication, whereas sham-treated participants significantly improved in only 6 of 10 measures (paired t tests, P<.05). There was a significant difference in the gains made by the 2 groups on 5 of 10 measures including functional communication (ANELT) (repeated-measures analysis of variance, P≤.05). Conclusions: For the first time, this study has demonstrated that basic linguistic skills as well as functional communication are bolstered by combining rTMS and behavioral language therapy in patients with subacute aphasia.

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