Our research

What is aphasia?

Aphasia is a common communication disability that affects about a third of people living with stroke – approximately 140,000 people in Australia. This figure is rising. By 2030, stroke occurrence is expected to increase by 25 per cent. This means more people will be living with the effects of stroke, including aphasia.

Aphasia is caused by stroke or other damage language centres of the brain. People with aphasia may have difficulty with:

  • talking
  • listening (understanding what others say)
  • reading
  • writing
  • using numbers
  • using gestures.

Aphasia does not affect intelligence but makes it difficult for someone to show their sense of humour, personality and intelligence.

Most of our activities in daily life involve communication – for example, reading the newspaper, searching on a website, listening to the radio, answering the phone, ordering in a café or using a phone. Aphasia can have devastating consequences for the person with aphasia, his or her family and friends.

Everyday activities can become more difficult or impossible. Someone with aphasia can feel more dependent on people. Aphasia may affect relationships with family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues and it is very difficult to make new friends.

About COMPARE

COMPARE is a research study which compares the outcomes of different treatments for people with aphasia.

The study will determine if two intensive and contrasting treatments: multi-modal aphasia treatment (M-MAT) and constraint induced aphasia therapy (CIAT) result in better outcomes compared to the usual aphasia treatments (usual care: UC). 

The study will define which individuals respond best to M-MAT and CIAT, based on the severity of aphasia. The study involves participants from Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania.

The research process

COMPARE is a randomised controlled trial. This means that when individuals with aphasia join the study, they will be randomly allocated to a group to receive one treatment type:

  • CIAT
  • M-MAT, or
  • Usual Care (UC).

All participants will compete an initial period of background assessments, the results will help build a picture of each participants strengths and struggles with their communication. Treatment will start and will occur 5 days a week over 2 weeks.

After treatment, all participants complete assessments to help the research team determine the effects of treatment. The assessments will occur after the treatment and again approximately 12 weeks later.

Participants who are randomly assigned to the Usual Care group will be offered additional treatment at the end of the 12 week follow-up period as part of an optional sub-study. In this sub-study, participants will be re-randomised to receive either CIAT or M-MAT treatment.

Treatment methods

Constraint Induced Aphasia Therapy (CIAT)

CIAT focuses on talking. It is an intensive treatment with individuals receiving 30 hours therapy spread across 2 weeks. Treatment is delivered in a group of 2-3 people with aphasia.

Multi-Modal Aphasia Therapy (M-MAT)

M-MAT focuses on various forms of communication including: talking, drawing, writing, and using gestures. It is an intensive treatment with individuals receiving 30 hours therapy spread across 2 weeks. Treatment is delivered in a group of 2-3 people with aphasia.

Other treatment options

There are other treatment options available. These might include individual or group therapy sessions or other research programs.

Optional sub-study

After the 12 week assessments, individuals in the Usual Care group may be invited to participate in the optional sub-study.  In this sub-study, individuals with aphasia from the Usual Care group will be randomly allocated to a treatment group: CIAT or M-MAT. Treatment will occur 3 days per week over 5 weeks.

After treatment, all participants will complete assessments to help the research team determine the effects of treatment. These assessments will take place immediately after the treatment and again approximately 12 weeks later.

Who is running the research?

Associate Professor Miranda Rose is leading the research. Miranda is a speech pathologist working in research at La Trobe University. View the Our team page for more information about staff involved in the study.

The study has La Trobe University Ethics Committee approval.

How to participate

To find out more about the study and to see if you are eligible, read the Participate in the study page. If you have questions you can also contact the COMPARE team.

Trial Registration Number: ACTRN12615000618550 (Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry)