Background: Although the use of telepractice in speech-language therapy for assessment purposes is well documented, its effectiveness and potential for rehabilitation in poststroke aphasia remain largely unknown. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of a remotely delivered synchronous pragmatic telespeech language therapy for improving functional communication in aphasia.
Methods: A pre-/post-test design was chosen in which each participant was his or her own control. Using a telerehabilitation platform and software (Oralys TeleTherapy) based on the Promoting Aphasics' Communicative Effectiveness (PACE) approach, 20 participants with chronic poststroke aphasia received 9 speech therapy sessions over a 3-week period.
Results: Teletreatment with the PACE pragmatic rehabilitation approach led to improvements in functional communication, marked by (a) an increase in communication effectiveness, reflecting significantly improved autonomy in functional communication; (b) a decrease in communication exchange duration, meaning that the treatment made communication faster and more efficient; (c) a decrease in the number of communication acts, meaning that, after treatment, less information was needed to be efficiently understood by the communication partner; and (d) an increase in the number of different communication strategies used, meaning that the treatment fostered the use of a variety of alternative communication modes.
Conclusions: This study provides additional arguments about the benefits of telerehabilitation for poststroke patients with aphasia. It showed that multimodal language therapy delivered through synchronous telerehabilitation had positive effects on functional communication in chronic aphasia.
Keywords: behavioral health; e-health; rehabilitation; telehealth; telemedicine.