New research aimed at helping bilingual people with aphasia regain communication skills in one or more languages uses a computer program that models how bilingual individuals retrieve words from memory. The program can help “clinicians identify which language to focus treatment on and increase chances for improvement in both.” It helps speech-language pathologists know which language to focus on in treatment.
Using Computers To Make a Treatment Plan
The modeling program, called BiLex, can accurately predict “up to 82% of patient recovery in the treated language and 60% in the untreated language.” It uses pre-stroke abilities to retrieve words and then mirrors post-stroke brain changes. It tests out words in English and the other language (in this case, Spanish) to determine the effect therapy will have on regaining language in one or both languages.
This knowledge means that therapy is that much more helpful, aimed at regaining the language where the person will have the most success. Speech-language pathologists can use it to decide whether to start with regaining English or Spanish or both at the same time.
Of course, this is just the first step in a long path of research that looks at how bilingualism affects recovery from aphasia stemming from brain injuries and stroke. Research continues in a larger clinical trial, applying initial findings to a larger group of bilingual individuals.