Aphasia LIFT: Exploratory investigation of an intensive comprehensive aphasia programme
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Background: Intensive comprehensive aphasia programs (ICAPs) are gaining popularity in the international aphasia rehabilitation community. ICAPs comprise at least three hours of treatment per day over at least two weeks, have definable start and end dates for one cohort and use a variety of formats including individual treatment, group therapy, education and technology to improve language and communication. While intensive treatment approaches have demonstrated equivocal results on impairment-based measures, positive changes on activity/participation measures provide support for ICAPs in rehabilitation of chronic aphasia. Aphasia Language Impairment and Functional Therapy (LIFT) is a research-based ICAP developed for the purpose of evaluating treatment outcomes across the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) domains. Aims: The aim of this study was to estimate the magnitude of treatment effects yielded by Aphasia Aphasia LIFT in the domains of language impairment, functional communication and communication-related quality of life (QOL). Methods & Procedures: Eleven individuals with chronic post-stroke aphasia (mean = 26.9 months) completed Aphasia LIFT. The programme comprised individual impairment-based and functional treatment, group therapy, and computer-based treatment for 40 hours over two weeks (n = 4, LIFT 1) or 100 hours over four weeks (n = 7, LIFT 2). Assessments of confrontation naming, discourse production, functional communication and communication-related quality of life were completed at pre-treatment, immediately post-treatment and six to eight weeks following treatment termination. Outcomes & Results: Group-level analyses revealed acquisition and maintenance of treatment effects, as evidenced by significant improvement on at least one outcome measure at follow-up in all domains. The most consistent pattern of improvement at an individual level was observed on measures of functional communication and communication-related QOL. Conclusions: Aphasia LIFT yielded positive outcomes across ICF domains, and in many cases the treatment effect was enduring. These results demonstrate that Aphasia LIFT was successful in meeting the overarching goal of ICAPs, to maximise communication and enhance life participation in individuals with aphasia. Further research into ICAPs is warranted.
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