Technical features, feasibility, and acceptability of augmented telerehabilitation in post-stroke aphasia – experiences from a randomized control trial

Hege Prag Ora*, Melanie Kirmess, Marian C. Brady, Hilde Sørli , Frank Becker

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Background: Post-stroke aphasia is a communication disorder where existing evidence favors intensive therapy methods. Telerehabilitation represents a service model for geographically remote settings, or other barriers to clinic attendance or to facilitate an augmentation of therapy across a continuum of care. Evidence to support efficiency, feasibility, and acceptability is however still scarce. Appraising aphasia telerehabilitation in controlled trials beyond its effectiveness, by investigating feasibility and acceptability, may facilitate implementation into clinical practice. Methods: In our pilot randomized controlled trial, we investigated the feasibility and acceptability of speech and language therapy by videoconference, in addition to usual care, in people with aphasia following stroke. To improve functional, expressive language, a tailored intervention was given 1 h per day, five times per week over four consecutive weeks. Feasibility measures included evaluation of technical setup using diary logs. Acceptability was investigated by examining adherence and satisfaction with therapy alongside evaluation of data safety and privacy. Results: Feasibility and acceptability data were collected in relation to 556.5 h of telerehabilitation delivered to 30 participants over a 2-years intervention period by three speech-language pathologists. Protocol adherence was high, with a tolerable technical fault rate; 86 faults were registered over 541 video sessions. Most (80%; n = 30) of the participants experienced zero to three faults. The main cause of technical failures was flawed internet connection, causing delayed or interrupted therapy. Total satisfaction with telerehabilitation was rated good or very good by 93.1% (n = 29) of participants and two of three speech-language pathologists. Within a moderate variance of technical failure, participants experiencing more faults were more satisfied. No serious events regarding security and privacy were reported. Our model is feasibly and ready to be implemented across a range of clinical settings and contexts. Conclusions: Synchronous telerehabilitation for post-stroke aphasia is feasible and acceptable and shows tolerable technical fault rates with high satisfaction among patients and pathologists. Within a low rate of faults, satisfaction was not negatively influenced by fault frequency. Access to clinical and technical expertise is needed when developing telerehabilitation services. Telerehabilitation may be a viable service delivery model for aphasia rehabilitation. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov, ID: NCT02768922.
Original languageEnglish
Article number671
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Neurology
Volume11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jul 2020

Keywords

  • aphasia
  • telerehabilitation
  • videoconference
  • stroke
  • feasibility

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