Background: Post-stroke aphasia is a chronic condition that impacts people's daily functioning and communication for many years after a stroke. Even though these individuals require sustained rehabilitation, they face extra burdens to access care due to shortages in qualified clinicians, insurance limitations and geographic access. There is a need to research alternative means to access intervention remotely, such as in the case of this study using a digital therapeutic.
Objective: To assess the feasibility and clinical efficacy of a virtual speech, language, and cognitive digital therapeutic for individuals with post-stroke aphasia relative to standard of care.
Methods: Thirty two participants completed the study (experimental: average age 59.8 years, 7 female, 10 male, average education: 15.8 years, time post-stroke: 53 months, 15 right handed, 2 left handed; control: average age 64.2 years, 7 female, 8 male, average education: 15.3 years, time post-stroke: 36.1 months, 14 right handed, 1 left handed). Patients in the experimental group received 10 weeks of treatment using a digital therapeutic, Constant Therapy-Research (CT-R), for speech, language, and cognitive therapy, which provides evidence-based, targeted therapy with immediate feedback for users that adjusts therapy difficulty based on their performance. Patients in the control group completed standard of care (SOC) speech-language pathology workbook pages.
Results: This study provides Class II evidence that with the starting baseline WAB-AQ score, adjusted by −0.69 for every year of age, and by 0.122 for every month since stroke, participants in the CT-R group had WAB-AQ scores 6.43 higher than the workbook group at the end of treatment. Additionally, secondary outcome measures included the WAB-Language Quotient, WAB-Cognitive Quotient, Brief Test of Adult Cognition by Telephone (BTACT), and Stroke and Aphasia Quality of Life Scale 39 (SAQOL-39), with significant changes in BTACT verbal fluency subtest and the SAQOL-39 communication and energy scores for both groups.
Conclusions: Overall, this study demonstrates the feasibility of a fully virtual trial for patients with post-stroke aphasia, especially given the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, as well as a safe, tolerable, and efficacious digital therapeutic for language/cognitive rehabilitation.
Clinical Trial Registration: www.ClinicalTrials.gov , identifier NCT04488029.