TORONTO – Telerehab is just as effective as in-person therapy for people with communication disorders caused by a stroke, according to a study recently published in Apasiology.
“Telerehabilitation promises to greatly expand access of underserved populations to speech therapy,” said the study’s authors.
The study included 44 participants with aphasia or cognitive-linguistic communication disorder. Treatment consisted of tablet-based homework exercises and realistic, customized treatment plans tailored to the needs of each individual client. Clients had weekly one-hour sessions with a therapist over a 10-week period, with the interaction randomized to in-person and telerehabilitation conditions.
Participants improved significantly on all measures, with statistically equivalent gains between in-person and telerehabilitation groups, the study found.
“Clinician-guided computer-based treatment is effective for producing widespread gains in language and communication skills in chronic stroke,” the study’s authors wrote. “Linguistic gains are equivalent whether clinician services are provided via telerehabilitation equipment or in person.”
Despite the findings, the study’s authors also said that communicative confidence for this population may still benefit from in-person treatment, reinforcing the need for social engagement in addition to deficit-focused linguistic treatment.