Project set to improve communication of stroke survivors

Stroke survivors in South Yorkshire are set to benefit from a unique project being launched by the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, which will aim to improve their communication skills.

The CACTUS Project will assess whether people can improve their communication skills, regardless of the time since their stroke. The study is using the latest computer therapy software from Steps Consulting Ltd, supported by trained volunteers, to help people who have difficulty finding words.

There is evidence to suggest that a person's word finding can improve with therapy years after their stroke but speech and language therapy is often focused in the months following a stroke when people are known to make the most spontaneous recovery.

The project, which is funded by a Research for Patient Benefit grant through the National Institute for Health Research, requires people who have difficulty finding words following a stroke to take part in the study and use the computer therapy to work on their word finding.

Study participants will receive support to work through word finding therapy tasks on a computer, including word and picture matching and repetition exercises, and in using these words in everyday situations. If the participants wish, the study offers the chance for them to receive their support via webcam, a service that is not readily available at present.

Dr Rebecca Palmer, from the University´s School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR), said: "This project will aim to improve the language skills of people recovering from a stroke. By working with, and supporting stroke survivors, we aim to maximise their language recovery, despite the number of years that have passed since the stroke. We are now calling on stroke survivors who would be interested in helping us with this study, and look forward to hearing from anyone who would be interested in taking part."

If you live in South Yorkshire, and have word finding difficulties as a result of a stroke, but have finished having regular speech therapy, the team would like to hear from you. They can be contacted on: cactusproject [a] (p) uk or by phoning Dr Rebecca Palmer or Gail Paterson on 0114 222 5427.

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