Using Technology to Support Patients with Aphasia following a Stroke
Aphasia is a disturbance of the comprehension and formulation of language caused by a dysfunction in specific brain regions, usually as a result of a stroke. Many patients require speech therapy after a stroke but may struggle to travel to an out-patients clinic. This project built on initial successful work in Buckinghamshire Speech and Language Therapy service, in using assistive technologies to support patients with aphasia following a stroke. The preliminary work done to date demonstrated the efficacy of this approach, but the service can be improved by introducing the next level of technological support; one to one remote consultations between the patient and the speech therapist. This approach was demonstrated to have worked in Bristol and the Gloucestershire area where the product was largely developed.
Our project is concerned with:
- Improving the utilization of technology in the Speech and Language Therapy team at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust
- Supporting Buckinghamshire County Council in integrating assistive technologies for health and social care, to improve care closer to home
- Evaluating the impact on patients in relation to their clinical outcomes and also their perceptions of the experience of remotely delivered speech therapy
The NICE guidelines for stroke require; Evidence of local arrangements to ensure patients discharged from hospital who have residual stroke-related problems are followed-up within 72 hours by specialist stroke rehabilitation services for assessment and on-going management.
StepByStep 4.5 (Steps Consulting) speech and language computer aided software is the market leader in the field, and was introduced into Buckinghamshire on a limited basis a year ago, following intensive research into what is the best solution in this emergent way of working. The product is aimed at patients with aphasia following a stroke (and could potentially be used for patients with major trauma and head injuries). The software enables the patient to follow speech therapy exercises in their own home, and the hardware is enabled for those who may have mobility problems and may not be previously familiar with computers.
The SLT team wished to take the service up to the next level (managing one-to-one consultations between the patient and their therapists remotely), but did not have the time in-house to project manage the delivery of the next steps. Sourcing such support from Thames Valley HIEC was the purpose of the project.
A full evaluation of the project was carried out by the Centre of Excellence for Technology and Assisted Living at Bucks New University.
The report is now available to download: