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Research Grants 2013


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2013 Grants - Rogalski

Internet-Based Speech Therapy: Improving Quality of Life and Access to Care

Emily Joy Rogalski, Ph.D.
Northwestern University
Chicago, Illinois

2013 Everyday Technologies for Alzheimer's Care

Currently there are no effective pharmacologic treatments for dementia, but some research suggests speech therapy may be helpful for maintaining communication abilities and independence in activities of daily living for people with Alzheimer's. Unfortunately, access to speech therapy is limited since there are few clinicians who specialize in providing speech language therapy (SLT) for people with dementia.

Emily Joy Rogalski, Ph.D., and colleagues aim to improve access to care for people with dementia by providing internet-based video SLT sessions using a personalized portal and to identify effective SLT methods. Because therapy will be provided via the Internet, participation will not be limited by geographic location. This allows for the trial to reach a larger number of people, making it one of the largest speech therapy trials for dementia patients with aphasia (communication disorder).

For this project, the researchers will partner with the Center for Behavioral Intervention Technology at Northwestern University to create a user-friendly internet portal for speech therapy and homework sessions. The portal will be critical in improving the delivery of speech therapy and in monitoring the effectiveness of the trial.

The team's approach is unique because it will provide individualized care in a group trial with functional outcomes in order to maximize the impact on participants' quality of life. Forty volunteers with aphasia due to dementia, along with their caregivers, will be enrolled in this study over the course of three years. The participants will receive an initial evaluation, eight therapy sessions and three post-treatment evaluations at 2-, 6- and 12-months post-treatment to determine the duration of therapy benefit.

Results from this study will be used to demonstrate feasibility of using web-based speech language therapy and develop strategy recommendations based on symptom profiles. Positive evidence-based outcomes may serve as pilot data for a multicenter web-based SLT trial for people with aphasia, and offer evidence to lobby for modifications to existing insurance coverage for speech therapy.