Speech Telerehabilition After Stroke: Proof-of-Concept and Feasibility (North Carolina)

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Summary:

Stroke survivors are often left with a range of disabilities that require rehabilitation for successful return to their pre-stroke lifestyles. One such disability is aphasia, a disturbance of language that results in communication issues such as deficits in language comprehension, language expression, reading, and writing, and reduces stroke survivors’ independence and quality of life. Unfortunately, stroke survivors living in rural eastern North Carolina have substantially greater difficulty obtaining treatment due to the limited availability of specialized speech language pathology service providers. While telehealth technology has been shown to be an effective approach to address access-to-care issues, there have been no studies examining comprehensive aphasia treatment using telerehabilitation approaches. This project will conduct an evidence-based speech therapy intervention that is designed to treat aphasia via telerehabilitation to examine the proof-of-concept and feasibility of the approach in rural North Carolina.

The specific aims of the project are as follows:

  • Evaluate the feasibility of using a telerehabilitation approach in rural eastern North Carolina to treat aphasia among stroke survivors. 
  • Evaluate the acceptability, credibility, and satisfaction of using a telerehabilitation approach in rural eastern North Carolina to treat aphasia among stroke survivors. 

Patients and their family members will engage in aphasia treatment via telerehabilitation to evaluate the approach, as measured by recruitment success, advancement from training to treatment, participation, and retention. In addition, investigators will collect pre- and post-treatment measures of functional communication and patient perception of communication ability to examine treatment outcomes. Acceptability and credibility of the telerehabilitation will be assessed before initiating treatment, whereas satisfaction will be assessed post-treatment. Exit interviews will be completed to evaluate perceptions of telerehabilitation and strategies to improve effectiveness.

This project is the first step in a systematic approach to address the multifaceted problem of access to care for rehabilitation services for individuals residing in rural areas, and will provide critical information about the feasibility, acceptability, credibility, and satisfaction of telerehabilitation therapy.

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