Abstract NS14: Independent Speech and Language Practice with Aphasia Computer Software is an Acceptable Alternative to Face to Face Therapy in the Long Term Post Stroke
Background: Speech and language therapy (SLT) for aphasia can be difficult to access in the later stages of stroke recovery, despite evidence of continued improvement with sufficient therapeutic intensity. Computerized aphasia therapy has been reported to be useful for independent language practice, providing new opportunities for continued rehabilitation. The success of this option depends on its acceptability to patients and carers. The purpose of this study was to investigate factors that affect the acceptability of computerized aphasia therapy.
Methods: A qualitative study was carried out alongside a pilot randomized controlled trial of computer aphasia therapy versus usual care for people more than 6 months post stroke. A SLT tailored computer exercises to individual needs. Participants practised 3 times a week for 5 months at home with monthly volunteer support. Semi structured interviews were conducted with 14 participants who received the intervention and 10 carers. Questions from a topic guide were presented and answered using picture, gesture, and written support. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. Three research SLTs identified and cross checked themes and subthemes emerging from the data.
Results: Benefits and disadvantages, need for help/support and comparisons with face to face therapy were key themes. The independence, flexibility, and repetition afforded by the computer was viewed as beneficial and the personalised exercises motivated participants to practise. Participants and carers perceived improvements in word finding and confidence talking. Computer practice could cause fatigue and interference with other commitments. Four participants with severe aphasia did not perceive any improvement. Support from carers/volunteers for motivation and technical assistance was seen as important. Participants generally preferred face to face therapy, however, using a computer for independent language practice was viewed as an acceptable alternative.
Conclusions: Independent computerized aphasia therapy is acceptable to stroke survivors. Acceptability can be maximised by personalised exercises, access to support and consideration of aphasia severity, fatigue and life style.
- © 2012 by American Heart Association, Inc.