Stroke speech trial begins in Tauranga, Christchurch

  • 07/10/2017
Man in bed sick
Patients will be randomly assigned to one of three different speech therapy treatment programmes. Photo credit: Getty

Improving speech for people that have suffered strokes is the subject of a trial taking place at Tauranga and Christchurch hospitals.

The clinical trial is also occurring in 16 hospitals in Australia, making it the largest of its kind in Australasia.

The Very Early Rehabilitation in Speech [Verse] study seeks to better understand the best way of treating people having difficulty with speech and language [aphasia] after having a stroke.

The trial focuses on recruiting patients within a fortnight of them suffering a stroke, says speech/language therapist Dr Meghann Grawburg, who is leading the research at Tauranga Hospital with 11 other speech therapists.

"We are interested to find out what kind of therapy and how much therapy is needed for best recovery in the early days after a stroke," she said.

Patients will be randomly assigned to one of three different speech therapy treatment programmes of various levels of intensity. Over the course of a month they'll go through speech therapy exercises up to five hours a week.

Dr Grawburg said the aim is to have 10 patients at the trial in Tauranga.

"As well as language loss, the selection criteria involves the patient having a certain level of alertness, which in the early days after a stroke isn't always that common."

Strokes kill about 2500 New Zealanders each year, with 90 percent of victims aged over 65.

Common signs of a stroke include numbness in the face, an arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; blurred or loss of vision; sudden difficulty speaking; and loss of balance.

NZN