Constraint Induced Aphasia Therapy: Volunteer-led, unconstrained and less intense delivery can be effective

Lyndsey Nickels*, Amanda Osborne

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Constraint Induced Aphasia Therapy (CIAT) has been shown to be effective in the treatment of aphasia, but clinicians have expressed concern regarding how far CIAT is practical to implement in clinical practice. OBJECTIVE: To determine whether CIAT delivered in a less-intense, lower dose, reduced constraint and volunteer-led format could produce positive outcomes in people with chronic aphasia. METHODS: Two groups were run, each with two people with chronic aphasia. Treatment involved a standard CIAT card-exchange game, supplemented by a home activity. Spoken language was required for responses but alternative modalities of communication were also permitted. Each group was led by a trained volunteer, lasted 90 minutes and was delivered twice a week for four weeks. RESULTS: Three of the four participants showed significant improvements in target word retrieval following treatment. No significant improvements were observed for untreated stimuli or language tasks. Two participants showed increases in the elaboration of their responses, and the same two showed an increase in the frequency with which they engaged in communication activities. CONCLUSIONS: Clear gains in performance were observed for the majority of people with aphasia who participated in a less intense format, considerably lower dose and less constrained form of CIAT led by trained volunteers. This suggests that this 'clinically realistic' service delivery model for CIAT could be added to the clinical repertoire of speech pathologists.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-109
Number of pages13
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Aphasia
  • constraint induced aphasia therapy
  • group treatment
  • rehabilitation
  • volunteer

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