Authors: Spaccavento S, Falcone R, Cellamare F, Picciola E, Glueckauf RL
Title: Effects of computer-based therapy versus therapist-mediated therapy in stroke-related aphasia: Pilot non-inferiority study
Source: Journal of Communication Disorders 2021 94: Article ID: 106158
Year: 2021
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 - N
Blind assessors - Y
Adequate follow-up - Y
Intention-to-treat analysis - N
Between-group comparisons - Y
Point estimates and variability - Y

Purpose: The burgeoning growth of computer-based rehabilitation technologies has led to a paradigm shift in the delivery of aphasia intervention. The aim of this study was to conduct a pilot non-inferiority study comparing computer-based training for people with aphasia versus traditional therapist-mediated training on language skills, functional communication and quality of life outcomes in the hospital setting. Methods: Twenty-two fluent, monolingual Italian speakers with stroke-related aphasia in the acute phase of recovery were enrolled in the study. Participants were assigned randomly to computer-based or therapist-mediated aphasia treatment. Both groups received one, 50-minute session for 5 days per week over a period of 8 weeks. During the training, they were administered words and sentence comprehension, written naming, word completion, fluency, word and sentence reorganization tasks. The complexity of each task was increased progressively based on the severity of each person's language deficits. Results: Participants in both computer-based and traditional therapist-mediated aphasia intervention showed significant gains in language skills, functional communication and quality of life from pre- to post-treatment. Statistically significant within-group differences were found across all outcome measures. In contrast, no significant between-group and group x time interaction effects were found across language skills, functional communication and quality-of-life measures. Conclusions: The overall pattern of findings suggested computer-based intervention was not inferior to traditional therapist-based intervention for enhancing functional communication deficits in stroke-related aphasia during the acute phase of recovery. A follow-up, fully-powered clinical trial is needed to confirm the reliability of these results.

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