Sue Hutchings suffered a stroke four years ago which left her strugglnig to communicate.
“I find it very frustrating. You just can’t get it out and in the end I give up,” says Sue.
But now thanks to pioneering computer therapy she and her husband Richard have noticed a big change. “I don’t think you can beat having a professional coming in, but you can’t have a professional with you 24 hours a day,” says Richard.
“I think the programme is helpful in as much as it kickstarted Sue’s progress again. Just recently she has felt comfortable, or it has been natural even for her to have a polite conversation with people and that is really good to see. I believe it all started with the programme.”
Sue is one of 350,000 people in the UK living with aphasia – one in three are affected with the disorder after a stroke. Computer therapy can help people with aphasia learn new words even years after a stroke, a new study conducted by the University of Sheffield has revealed.
Researchers from the University’s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) found there are a number of significant benefits to using computer therapy for people affected by aphasia, in comparison to usual speech and language therapy alone. Currently there is limited speech and language therapy available for patients in the long term after a stroke and a lot of people with aphasia want more therapy than they receive. The pioneering £1.5 million study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), offered people with aphasia the opportunity to take part in self-managed speech and language therapy using a computer at home, in addition to face-to-face therapy available to them.
More than 270 people from 21 NHS Speech and Language departments across the UK took part in the trial – all were between four months and 36 years post-stroke.
Results of the five-year study showed computer therapy enabled patients to increase their speech and language practice – 28 hours on average compared with 3.8 hours of usual speech and language therapy over a six month period.
Dr Rebecca Palmer, from ScHARR at the University of Sheffield and Chief Investigator of the study, said: “I hope the results of this study give both speech and language therapists and people with aphasia and their carers hope for further recovery.”