Early intense therapy can significantly speed up the communication recovery of stroke patients, says a new study.

A stroke impairs blood supply to the brain, which can cause lasting problems in speech and comprehension. But early intense therapy helped patients to use more words and have a better vocabulary besides improved comprehension scores and verbal output.

Erin Godecke from Curtin’s School of Psychology and Speech Pathology, who conducted the doctoral research, said, “Stroke survivors often suffer a breakdown in their communication abilities, known as aphasia, and receive very limited therapy for this condition.”

“Aphasia affects a person’s speech production, comprehension, and reading and writing abilities which can be extremely frustrating. Usual care intervention for aphasia in the early recovery phase involves an average of only 11 minutes of therapy per week.” Godecke added.

As part of Godecke’s ongoing study, stroke survivors were given five hours of therapy per week on either a one-on-one or small group basis.

“Stroke survivors with aphasia can be left with severe disabilities and are up to three times more likely to suffer from depression,” she said, according to a Curtin School release.

“Not all stroke survivors are assessed for communication difficulties at an early stage and as a result, these survivors do not have the opportunity to take the best advantage of the pivotal early neuro-recovery period.

“Our study has found that the treatment patients receive improves their communication abilities and also helps their quality of life,” she added.