Language-specific attention treatment for aphasia (Peach et al., 2019)

Purpose: This study was conducted to examine the comparative effectiveness of 2 different approaches, 1 domain-specific and the other domain-general, to language and attention rehabilitation in participants with stroke-induced aphasia. The domain-specific treatment consisted of language-specific attention treatment (L-SAT), and the domain-general treatment consisted of direct attention training (DAT) using the computerized exercises included in Attention Process Training-3 (Sohlberg & Mateer, 2010).
Method: Four individuals with mild–moderate aphasia participated in this study. A randomized controlled cross-over single-subject design was used to assess the effectiveness of the 2 treatments administered in this study. Treatment outcomes were evaluated in terms of participants’ task performance for each program, standardized language and attention measures, tests of functional abilities, and patient-reported outcomes.
Results: Visual comparisons demonstrated linear improvements following L-SAT and variable patterns following DAT. Omnibus effect sizes were statistically significant for 9 of the 13 L-SAT tasks. The weighted standardized effect sizes for posttreatment changes following L-SAT ranged from small to large, with the exception of 1 task. The average group gain following DAT was 5%. The Western Aphasia Battery–Revised Aphasia Quotients (Kertesz, 2007) demonstrated reliable improvements for 3 of the 4 participants following L-SAT, whereas only 1 of the participants improved reliably following DAT. The margins of improvements in functional language were substantially larger following L-SAT than DAT. Performance on the Test of Everyday Attention improved significantly for 2 participants following L-SAT and for 1 participant following DAT on selected Test of Everyday Attention (Robertson, Ward, Ridgeway, & Nimmo-Smith, 1994) subtests. Patient-reported outcomes for communication and attention following treatment favored L-SAT compared to DAT.
Conclusions: The results support the view that attention is allocated in ways that are particular to specific tasks rather than as a general resource that is allocated equivalently to all processing tasks. Domain-specific treatment for language deficits due to attentional impairment appears to be a suitable, if not preferable, approach for aphasia rehabilitation.

Supplemental Material S1. Language-Specific Attention Treatment: Clinician Instructions.

Peach, R. K., Beck, K. M., Gorman, M., & Fisher, C. (2019). Clinical outcomes following language-specific attention treatment versus direct attention training for aphasia: A comparative effectiveness study. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 62, 2785–2811. https://doi.org/10.1044/2019_JSLHR-L-18-0504