Around a third of stroke survivors will have some degree of aphasia (communication difficulty). This can severely affect someone’s mood and quality of life. For example, they may no longer be able to join in conversations with family and friends.
There are few evidence-based treatments available for speech and language therapists (SLTs) to help stroke survivors that have problems with everyday conversation. Many SLTs lack the knowledge and confidence to effectively use the tools that do exist to help stroke survivors. This stops stroke survivors receiving therapy that could make the best of their communication skills and lead to a better recovery.
What do the researchers hope to do?
The researchers will develop a new treatment aiming to improve everyday conversation called ‘LUNA’. The treatment will be co-designed by the researchers with NHS SLTs and stroke survivors with aphasia, so that it can be easily used by healthcare professionals and patients in the future.
How will the researchers do this study?
The study includes a UK-wide online survey of SLTs to understand their knowledge on, and skills in therapy to improve everyday conversation. It will increase understanding of what can help and what stops them from giving stroke survivors this type of therapy. This information will be used to make a new training programme for SLTs, and be trialled with 60 SLT volunteers.
It was initially planned that LUNA would be tested face-to-face with 24 stroke survivors with communication difficulties. But this had to change due to coronavirus and it will be tested with stroke survivors online.
Dr Lucy Dipper, a Principle Investigator on the project said: “We're thinking of this as a positive opportunity to test our new treatment with more stroke survivors. We hope that we'll be able to show benefits for giving this new treatment online. In the future, we still want to show the treatment can work face-to-face too, giving stroke survivors even more choice in how SLTs can support them to rebuild their ability to communicate."
The researchers have published a paper on co-production with stroke survivors with aphasia and SLTs for this treatment.