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Cambridge Neuroscientists developing new methods to treat patients who have partly lost their language due to stroke

Aphasic deficits are widely believed to become stable and resistant to further improvement within one year after stroke. Recent Cognition Brain Sciences Unit (CBU) research shows that this belief is incorrect. Even several years after stroke, significant improvement of language performance can be achieved when a novel intensive language therapy is applied for just two weeks.

Professor Friedemann Pulvermüller recently introduced this new therapy method, called Constraint-Induced Aphasia Therapy, to a group of NHS language therapists at the meeting of the South West Aphasia Special Interest Group, Royal United Hospital, Bath, in March 2010. Jon Hunt, Senior Specialist Speech Language Therapist and organiser of the meeting, said that the new therapy method

"is of fundamental importance to our profession and has major implications for the way we need to be re-rethinking the therapy services we provide to people with aphasia".

He also pointed out that the new method may be more cost efficient than previous ones, which is of special interest in times of restricted NHS budgets. The exchange between CBU researchers and language therapists was prompted by a recent article in Annals of Neurology reporting that scientists at the University of Malaga and the CBU could demonstrate a significant improvement of language skills in chronic post-stroke aphasia patients treated with a combination of Constraint-Induced Aphasia Therapy and the drug memantine.

Article written by the MRC CBU.

Posted on 18/03/2010

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