Precision rehabilitation for aphasia by patient age, sex, aphasia severity, and time since stroke? A prespecified, systematic review-based, individual participant data, network, subgroup meta-analysis

Brady M. C., Ali M., VandenBerg K., Williams L. J., Williams L. R., Abo M., ...More

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF STROKE, vol.17, pp.1067-1077, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Review
  • Volume: 17
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1177/17474930221097477
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, EMBASE, MEDLINE
  • Page Numbers: pp.1067-1077
  • Keywords: Stroke, aphasia, rehabilitation, speech and language therapy, individual participant data, network meta-analysis, DESIGN
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: Yes


Background: Stroke rehabilitation interventions are routinely personalized to address individuals' needs, goals, and challenges based on evidence from aggregated randomized controlled trials (RCT) data and meta-syntheses. Individual participant data (IPD) meta-analyses may better inform the development of precision rehabilitation approaches, quantifying treatment responses while adjusting for confounders and reducing ecological bias. Aim: We explored associations between speech and language therapy (SLT) interventions frequency (days/week), intensity (h/week), and dosage (total SLT-hours) and language outcomes for different age, sex, aphasia severity, and chronicity subgroups by undertaking prespecified subgroup network meta-analyses of the RELEASE database. Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, and trial registrations were systematically searched (inception-Sept2015) for RCTs, including > 10 IPD on stroke-related aphasia. We extracted demographic, stroke, aphasia, SLT, and risk of bias data. Overall-language ability, auditory comprehension, and functional communication outcomes were standardized. A one-stage, random effects, network meta-analysis approach filtered IPD into a single optimal model, examining SLT regimen and language recovery from baseline to first post-intervention follow-up, adjusting for covariates identified a-priori. Data were dichotomized by age (<=/> 65 years), aphasia severity (mild-moderate/ moderate-severe based on language outcomes' median value), chronicity (<=/> 3 months), and sex subgroups. We reported estimates of means and 95% confidence intervals. Where relative variance was high (> 50%), results were reported for completeness. Results: 959 IPD (25 RCTs) were analyzed. For working-age participants, greatest language gains from baseline occurred alongside moderate to high-intensity SLT (functional communication 3-to-4 h/week; overall-language and comprehension > 9 h/week); older participants' greatest gains occurred alongside low-intensity SLT (<= 2 h/week) except for auditory comprehension (> 9 h/week). For both age-groups, SLT-frequency and dosage associated with best language gains were similar. Participants <= 3 months post-onset demonstrated greatest overall-language gains for SLT at low intensity/moderate dosage (<= 2 SLT-h/week; 20-to-50 h); for those > 3 months, post-stroke greatest gains were associated with moderate-intensity/high-dosage SLT (3-4 SLT-h/week; > 50 hours). For moderate-severe participants, 4 SLT-days/week conferred the greatest language gains across outcomes, with auditory comprehension gains only observed for > 4 SLT-days/week; mild-moderate participants' greatest functional communication gains were associated with similar frequency (> 4 SLT-days/week) and greatest overall-language gains with higher frequency SLT (> 6 days/weekly). Males' greatest gains were associated with SLT of moderate (functional communication; 3-to-4 h/weekly) or high intensity (overall-language and auditory comprehension; (> 9 h/weekly) compared to females for whom the greatest gains were associated with lower-intensity SLT (< 2 SLT-h/weekly). Consistencies across subgroups were also evident; greatest overall-language gains were associated with 20-to-50 SLT-h in total; auditory comprehension gains were generally observed when SLT > 9 h over > 4 days/week. Conclusions: We observed a treatment response in most subgroups' overall-language, auditory comprehension, and functional communication language gains.