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Study suggests intensive therapy not best for treating loss of language after stroke

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Joondalup [Australia], September 12 Morning India: Intensive therapy is not necessarily best when it comes to treating the loss of language and communication in early recovery after a stroke, suggests new research from the Edith Cowan University.

Aphasia is a neurological disorder affecting spoken language, comprehension, reading, and writing. It affects one-third of around 17 million people worldwide who experience a stroke each year and is treated with speech therapy. Early care is vital, but not intensity.

The research, published in the International Journal of Stroke, found that unlike physical and motor skill rehabilitation, recovering lost language caused by a condition known as aphasia after stroke is a marathon, not a sprint. It also showed that early intervention is crucial.

Lead author, Associate Professor Erin Godecke from ECU’s School of Medical and Health Sciences, said the findings have important implications for the treatment of aphasia because they mean service delivery options are likely to change.

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“Previously people with aphasia got the majority of their therapy in the first 6-8 weeks after stroke,” Professor Godecke said.

“Our research shows that there is no benefit to this. It is likely that the same therapy could be spread over a longer period to enhance recovery, rather than getting a burst at the start and very little over the next months or years,” she said.

Professor Godecke said aphasia therapy and early intervention are vitally important for recovery outcomes after stroke. However, increasing the intensity of the treatment doesn’t equate to better results.

“We found that when we provided early aphasia therapy people had a massive increase in their ability to communicate at 12 and 26 weeks after their stroke. They could talk better and had less difficulty finding and using the right words.

“Importantly though, we also found that if we provided around 10 hours of therapy per week versus nearly 23 hours a week the results weren’t any different. We didn’t see any harm, but we didn’t see any benefit,” Professor Godecke said.

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