A study looking at combining brain stimulation with speech therapy to treat aphasia is moving toward a larger clinical trial. Last year, we told you about NAA Board Member Dr. Peter Turkletaub’s study of personalized brain stimulation. This new study, conducted by doctors from the University of South Carolina and the Medical University of South Carolina, will also use Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) to treat aphasia.

New Research

The initial findings are exciting:

“At 6 months following treatment completion, the response to the aphasia treatment was more than doubled for the patients who received electrical stimulation compared to those who received the placebo stimulation,” said Fridriksson. “If this effect is supported by future research, it could mean a major change in how rehabilitation of stroke is administered.”

By combining mild electrical brain stimulation through electrodes with speech therapy, researchers were able to increase the success of speech therapy alone. This new study closely mirrors the study conducted by researchers out of Georgetown University and the University of North Carolina last year.

What’s Next

This recent study was interesting because it looked at failure rather than success:

The researchers at USC and MUSC questioned whether tDCS could boost scores on naming exercises in stroke patients with long-term aphasia. They used a unique method to test their idea. Instead of looking for proof that the new treatment was effective, they looked for any evidence that it was not effective.

Doing so allowed doctors to consider all evidence found through the study. These initial results, conducted with 74 subjects, opens the door for a much larger study that is currently in the planning and designing stage.

We’ll let you know if we hear anything in the future about study recruitment.

We present all the information that we have on-hand whenever we report about new research.  All additional questions need to be directed to the researchers.