Scientific Evidence that iPad Apps Work for Aphasia Therapy
3 min read
Did you know that using speech therapy apps on an iPad can help with recovery in aphasia? For the many people already using technology in therapy, this sounds obvious. But an independent study now offers scientific evidence proving the positive results that can be achieved using apps by Tactus Therapy.
This independent study was conducted by Drs. Brielle Stark & Elizabeth Warburton at the University of Cambridge in England.
The people in the study had all been living with aphasia for at least 1 year, which is considered to be chronic aphasia.
The app they used was called Language Therapy by Tactus Therapy.
The participants used the app for at least 20 minutes a day for 4 weeks.
Every single participant showed improvement. Some scores improved up to 250%!
Therapy That Works
For stroke survivors without access to intensive speech therapy services, this study confirms that they can continue to recover on their own by using the right tools. For us here at Tactus Therapy, this study validates the importance of the work we do. Because it has always been our goal to help people with communication disorders, it is immensely gratifying to see independent evidence that our apps are making a real difference.
Never Too Late
The 10 participants in the study all had mild or severe expressive aphasia with good comprehension and cognition. They each have lived with aphasia for at least 1 year, but some were more than 6 years post-stroke. All participants were between 45 and 87 years old, showing that age is not a factor in using iPad apps or in making positive changes in language abilities.
Easy to Use Independently
The study provided a 15-minute orientation to the iPad operation and app, but otherwise left participants to independently decide what to practice. Each participant was asked to email their results to the researcher after completing the exercises. While the protocol required them to use the app at least 20 minutes a day, some were so motivated and engaged that they used the app for up to 2 hours. No one had difficulty using the app.
Improvements that Last
The gains made while using Language Therapy were maintained long after the participants stopped daily use. The most dramatic improvements were seen in people with more severe aphasia. The study was well-controlled with a non-language activity (the game Bejeweled) in a multiple baselines crossover design, so we know these changes were not attributable to simply the mental stimulation of using the iPad or spontaneous recovery.
Adds to Speech Therapy
While it’s fantastic to know that people with aphasia can make real progress using apps at home, computer software is not a replacement for skilled speech therapy services. Speech-language pathologists are highly trained to fully assess individual needs and work on goals that will improve communication and life participation. Unfortunately, many people face barriers to accessing speech therapy for the amount of time required to create neuroplastic change in the brain. Using apps at home increases the intensity of practice needed to improve, augmenting speech therapy services and giving hope to those without access to therapy.
Independent clinical research can confirm that a therapy program works, examining whom it works for best and what kinds of changes can be expected, but it is a long and expensive process. In the rapidly changing field of technology, not every tool or method can undergo such rigorous examination in a timely fashion. Stroke survivors do not have years to wait for the research to start their recovery. They need immediate access to tools that are designed on proven techniques.
Long before we knew the results of this study, we showed you how Naming Therapy, one of the 4 aphasia therapy apps in Language Therapy, is based on evidence. You can trust that the design of all the Tactus Therapy apps is based on proven therapy techniques, and you can find the references on the evidence page.
Supporting Research Efforts
The Tactus Therapy team supports research efforts in any way we can. If you are interested in running a clinical trial with our apps, please get in touch. There are other studies currently going on to look at the efficacy of our apps, and we’ll bring you the results as soon as they’re available.