Piracetam for Aphasia in Post-stroke Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

CNS Drugs. 2016 Jul;30(7):575-87. doi: 10.1007/s40263-016-0348-1.


Background: Aphasia is a common symptom in post-stroke patients. Piracetam is a commonly used nootropic agent that promises various benefits to brain function, including language improvement.

Objective: We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess whether piracetam facilitates the rehabilitation of language performance in post-stroke patients.

Methods: Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of piracetam treatment in post-stroke patients published in any language were included, excluding those involving pre-existing cognitive disorders such as dementia and mood disturbances. We searched several databases including PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Central, CINAHL, Web of Science, and PsycINFO for RCTs published up to 31 December 2015. We conducted a meta-analysis using RevMan (version 5.3), with standardized mean differences (SMDs) and fixed-effect models, and used StataSE (version 13) for the detection of publication bias. This study has been submitted to PROSPERO, and its registration number is CRD42016034088.

Results: We identified 1180 titles and abstracts, and finally included seven RCTs in this meta-analysis. The number of participants in each study ranged from 19 to 66, summing up to 261 patients overall. The dose of piracetam was consistent while the frequency and time of therapy varied. The assessment of the language at the end of trials showed no significant improvement in overall severity of aphasia [SMD 0.23, 95 % confidence interval (CI) -0.03 to 0.49, P = 0.08], but written language (SMD 0.35, 95 % CI 0.04 to 0.66, P = 0.03) showed pronounced improvement. Subgroup analyses indicated a dissociation of effectiveness between short- and long-term assessment in overall severity (P = 0.008, I (2) = 85.6 %) in terms of tests for subgroup differences, and a mild trend toward dissociation in written subtests (P = 0.30, I (2) = 5.1 %). Funnel plots and Egger's test identified no obvious publication bias in the primary variable.

Conclusions: Piracetam plays a limited role in the rehabilitation of overall language impairment and only benefits written language ability at the end of trials. Its effect on overall linguistic level and written language tends to emerge within a short period and declines thereafter.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Aphasia / complications
  • Aphasia / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Language Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Language Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Piracetam / therapeutic use*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Piracetam