Efficacy of intensive aphasia therapy in patients with chronic stroke: a randomised controlled trial

J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2018 Jun;89(6):586-592. doi: 10.1136/jnnp-2017-315962. Epub 2017 Dec 22.


Objective: Recent evidence has fuelled the debate on the role of massed practice in the rehabilitation of chronic post-stroke aphasia. Here, we further determined the optimal daily dosage and total duration of intensive speech-language therapy.

Methods: Individuals with chronic aphasia more than 1 year post-stroke received Intensive Language-Action Therapy in a randomised, parallel-group, blinded-assessment, controlled trial. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two outpatient groups who engaged in either highly-intensive practice (Group I: 4 hours daily) or moderately-intensive practice (Group II: 2 hours daily). Both groups went through an initial waiting period and two successive training intervals. Each phase lasted 2 weeks. Co-primary endpoints were defined after each training interval.

Results: Thirty patients-15 per group-completed the study. A primary outcome measure (Aachen Aphasia Test) revealed no gains in language performance after the waiting period, but indicated significant progress after each training interval (gradual 2-week t-score change [CI]: 1.7 [±0.4]; 0.6 [±0.5]), independent of the intensity level applied (4-week change in Group I: 2.4 [±1.2]; in Group II: 2.2 [±0.8]). A secondary outcome measure (Action Communication Test) confirmed these findings in the waiting period and in the first training interval. In the second training interval, however, only patients with moderately-intensive practice continued to make progress (Time-by-Group interaction: P=0.009, η2=0.13).

Conclusions: Our results suggest no added value from more than 2 hours of daily speech-language therapy within 4 weeks. Instead, these results demonstrate that even a small 2-week increase in treatment duration contributes substantially to recovery from chronic post-stroke aphasia.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aphasia / etiology
  • Aphasia / therapy*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language Therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recovery of Function
  • Speech Therapy*
  • Stroke / complications*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome