This study is about recovery from aphasia, which is a language disorder that can affect speaking, understanding, reading and writing.
As language is invaluable for everyday living, patients with aphasia, and their relatives, desperately want to know if they will get better. They want to know how long it will take, and what they should do. Unfortunately, this information is not presently available.
PLORAS (Predicting Language Outcome and Recovery After Stroke) is a project that had received long-term funding from the Wellcome Trust, and we are now providing follow-on funding to continue and to expand upon its previous work.
PLORAS provides new stroke patients that have aphasia with information on how other patients, with the same type of stroke damage, recovered over time. The long term goal of the project is to provide a clinical tool that tells new patients with aphasia how much language they are likely to regain, how long this typically takes, and ultimately how they can speed up the recovery process.
The research involves giving participants an MRI brain scan; and standardised tests of language, cognitive function (e.g. thinking, memory), vision and hearing. It also asks questions about their stroke, language ability and recovery.
The researchers can already make useful and reliable predictions about how speech skills recover over time. They now need to increase the range of predictions that can be made, such as predicting the ability to read and understand speech. They also need to refine the accuracy and precision of their predictions related to speech production. To do all this, they need to collect information from many more stroke survivors and to understand why some patients recover faster than others despite what seems to be similar stroke damage.