Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology
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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 8  |  Page : 102-108

Clinical feasibility of combining transcranial direct current stimulation with standard aphasia therapy

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA

Correspondence Address:
Dr. E Susan Duncan
74 Hatcher Hall, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/aian.AIAN_540_20

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Background: Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a safe, portable, and inexpensive form of noninvasive brain stimulation that appears to augment the effects of concurrent therapy. However, several methodological issues in existing studies distance tDCS from current clinical practice. In this study, we offered (and administered) tDCS to individuals seeking typical behavioral aphasia therapy on an outpatient basis. Methods: We approached clients (n = 10) planning to receive standard aphasia therapy at a university clinic. Following a brief description of tDCS, we offered to provide stimulation during their therapy. Those interested and without contraindications participated in a double-blind, sham-controlled crossover study of tDCS paired with speech-language therapy provided twice weekly. Participants received active (2 mA) or sham tDCS during two eight-week therapy phases (separated by ten weeks) with the anode over Broca's area and the cathode on the contralateral forehead. Stimulation was provided for the first 20 minutes of each one-hour session. Prior to and following each phase, participants were video recorded telling the Cinderella narrative. Recordings were transcribed and analyzed for correct information units (CIUs). Results: Seven individuals (70%) were interested in and eligible for tDCS. Data from four participants who completed the study indicated a large effect size favoring active over sham tDCS (Cohen's d = 1.32). The participant with the most severe deficits did not benefit from therapy in either condition. Conclusion: There is potential for tDCS to enhance meaningful communication outcomes in standard clinical practice. Further investigation is needed to replicate findings and determine individual characteristics predictive of treatment response.

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