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tDCS to Treat Subacute Aphasia

The safety and scientific validity of this study is the responsibility of the study sponsor and investigators. Listing a study does not mean it has been evaluated by the U.S. Federal Government. Read our disclaimer for details. Identifier: NCT04048668
Recruitment Status : Suspended (Suspended due to COVID-19)
First Posted : August 7, 2019
Last Update Posted : April 27, 2020
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
University of Pennsylvania

Brief Summary:
This study proposes to use transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), a technique by which a very small electrical current (2 mA) is applied to the scalp, along side speech therapy in patients with subacute stroke and aphasia in order to enhance language recovery. Aphasic patients in an inpatient neurorehabilitation facility who have experienced a stroke between one week and three months prior to enrollment will be invited to participate. Participants will receive either real or sham tDCS to the left hemisphere of the brain for a minimum of 5 consecutive sessions to up-to a max of 10 sessions depending on the length of their rehab stay . Stimulation will be paired with with the patient's normal speech therapy schedule. Participant's language skills will be assessed at baseline and immediately after the last session of therapy in order to determine whether tDCS is associated with either transient or persistent improvement in language.

Condition or disease Intervention/treatment Phase
Aphasia Stroke, Acute Device: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) Not Applicable

Detailed Description:

Speech therapy is the standard of care nationwide in treating individuals who have had a stroke and are now experiencing aphasia. Speech therapy can help to rehabilitate language skills and supplement function by teaching alternate strategies for communication; however, these benefits often leave room for further improvement. Researchers have focused their efforts in combining speech therapy with other techniques to boost the effects. In this study, we will combine speech therapy with non-invasive brain stimulation, specifically transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS), in the hopes of significantly improve language in subacute aphasia patients.

This is a double-blind, randomized, sham-controlled pilot project, where inpatients with subacute stroke and aphasia will be recruited from the Penn Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine hospital (PIRM). The typical patient admitted to PIRM is approximately 1-2 weeks post-stroke. Upon enrollment, baseline aphasia severity will be characterized using standardized measures such as the Western Aphasia Battery (WAB), Pyramids and Palm Trees (PPT) and Philadelphia Naming Test (PNT) by the patient's speech therapist. Subjects will subsequently be randomized to undergo either real or sham tDCS. Subjects will then undergo a minimum of 5-consectuive stimulation session (Monday-Friday) and maximum of 10-consecutive stimulation sessions (Monday-Friday) of either real or sham tDCS. During stimulation, subjects will receive either real tDCS at a current of 2.0 mA for 20 minutes or sham stimulation for an equivalent period of time with a 30sec ramp-up/ramp-down. Sham stimulation mimics real stimulation closely; most subjects cannot distinguish between real and sham tDCS. During stimulation visits subjects will concurrently participate in their regular speech therapy treatment. Speech Therapy will be administered by their speech therapist and will follow whatever protocol the therapist deems useful for standard of care treatment of their aphasia. An immediate follow-up session will also take place, subjects will repeat language batteries including the WAB, PPT and PNT.

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Study Type : Interventional  (Clinical Trial)
Estimated Enrollment : 30 participants
Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Triple (Participant, Care Provider, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Treatment
Official Title: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation to Enhance Language Recovery in Patients With Aphasia After Subacute Stroke
Actual Study Start Date : September 1, 2019
Estimated Primary Completion Date : August 2021
Estimated Study Completion Date : August 2021

Resource links provided by the National Library of Medicine

MedlinePlus related topics: Aphasia

Arm Intervention/treatment
Active Comparator: Anodal tDCS
2mA for 20 minutes
Device: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)
tDCS is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique by which very small electrical currents (2 mA) are applied to the scalp.
Other Name: Standard of Care Speech Therapy

Sham Comparator: Sham tDCS
30 second ramp-up / ramp-down for 20 minutes
Device: Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS)
tDCS is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique by which very small electrical currents (2 mA) are applied to the scalp.
Other Name: Standard of Care Speech Therapy

Primary Outcome Measures :
  1. Change in Aphasia Severity [ Time Frame: Baseline, Immediate Follow-up ]
    Measured by WAB AQ score. A higher score indicated better language function. Scores can range from 0-100 with any score over 93 considered "recovered".

Information from the National Library of Medicine

Choosing to participate in a study is an important personal decision. Talk with your doctor and family members or friends about deciding to join a study. To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contacts provided below. For general information, Learn About Clinical Studies.

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Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 85 Years   (Adult, Older Adult)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No

Inclusion Criteria:

  • 1. Presence of aphasia attributable to stroke that occurred between 7 days and 3 months (inclusive) prior to inclusion in the study.
  • 2. Must be able to understand the nature of the study, and give informed consent.
  • 3. English must be their native language where "native" is defined as learning English before the age of 6

Exclusion Criteria:

  • 1. History of chronic, serious, or unstable neurologic illness(es) other than stroke
  • 2. Current unstable medical illness(es)
  • 3. History of reoccurring seizures or epilepsy
  • 4. Current abuse of alcohol or drugs
  • 5. Active or History of major psychiatric disorder
  • 6. Pregnancy
  • 7. Subjects with metallic objects in the face or head other than dental apparatus such as braces, fillings, and implants.

Information from the National Library of Medicine

To learn more about this study, you or your doctor may contact the study research staff using the contact information provided by the sponsor.

Please refer to this study by its identifier (NCT number): NCT04048668

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United States, Pennsylvania
Penn Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States, 19146
Sponsors and Collaborators
University of Pennsylvania
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Responsible Party: University of Pennsylvania Identifier: NCT04048668    
Other Study ID Numbers: 813736
First Posted: August 7, 2019    Key Record Dates
Last Update Posted: April 27, 2020
Last Verified: April 2020

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Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Drug Product: No
Studies a U.S. FDA-regulated Device Product: No
Keywords provided by University of Pennsylvania:
non-invasive brain stimulation
Additional relevant MeSH terms:
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Cerebrovascular Disorders
Brain Diseases
Central Nervous System Diseases
Nervous System Diseases
Vascular Diseases
Cardiovascular Diseases
Speech Disorders
Language Disorders
Communication Disorders
Neurobehavioral Manifestations
Neurologic Manifestations
Signs and Symptoms