Faculty’s work to bridge the gap between practice and research is latest in series of initiatives designed to improve the lives of stroke survivors

When the Tedy’s Team Center of Excellence in Stroke Recovery was launched in early 2023, one of its key goals was to research the effects of stroke on areas like speech, language, and brain activity.

To jump start the initiative, four faculty members from the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders have been named Tedy’s Team Research Fellows. CSD Assistant Professor Dr. Megan Schliep, mentored by PT Professor Dr. Prue Plummer; CSD Associate Professor Dr. Lauren Zipse; and the team of CSD Instructors Esther Ayuk and Suzanne Pennington, mentored by CSD Chair Dr. Marjorie Nicholas, have been awarded seed funding from the Institute that they will use to collect pilot data with the goal of using it to apply for external funding to advance their research.

“The goal is for the faculty to help advance the mission of the Tedy’s Team Center and bridge the gap between practice and research,” said Dr. Kimberly Erler, the Center’s inaugural director.  “They will engage directly with stakeholders and seek input from stroke survivors and their care partners.”

The three grants are:

  • Identifying the moderating roles of psychosocial, physical activity, and communication factors on fall status after stroke using ecological momentary assessment.”

Schliep will use ecological momentary assessment (EMA) to collect real-time information several times a day via text message about stroke survivors’ daily activities, including what they are engaged in, where, with whom, and how they are feeling in the moment in regard to mood and ability to concentrate. The survey participants will include people with and without aphasia.

  • Scaling up: Piloting a home-practice version of Melodic Intonation Therapy.”

Zipse will develop and test a home-practice version of an established aphasia treatment called Melodic Intonation Therapy, and test whether home practice can be used successfully to increase treatment dosage. If home practice is effective, it can allow people with aphasia to receive more frequent treatment over a longer period of time than most get following a stroke.

  • “Activating Life Participation: Tracking outcomes after an Intensive Comprehensive Aphasia Program (ICAP.)”

Ayuk and Pennington will design an aphasia-appropriate Behavioral Activation (BA) treatment program to address activity engagement after an ICAP program. Clients who recently completed the Spaulding Rehabilitation – Institute ICAP will be recruited for the project and will be followed for up to a year. Findings will provide insight into the effectiveness of their aphasia-adapted BA treatment program and highlight barriers and facilitators of activity engagement post-ICAP.

At the Institute, the ICAP program is called S-IHP’s CAP. It’s a 6-week intensive treatment program where students in the speech-language pathology and occupational therapy programs work with people with post-stroke aphasia designed to maximize their recovery and return to activities. The program is a collaboration with Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital.

On a recent afternoon, Schliep, along with her project mentor, professor of physical therapy Prue Plummer, presented questions of her proposed survey to clients in the Aphasia Center at the Sanders IMPACT Practice Center, with which the Tedy’s Team Center collaborates. The clients all have aphasia, a condition that impairs the expression and understanding of language as well as reading and writing. As Schliep displayed each proposed question and response options on a monitor, the clients provided their thoughts on how each could be improved. A consistent comment involved response format, with clients noting that the inclusion of multiple formats, such as presenting both a 1-10 scale and pain emoji, would allow participants to respond more easily using an option with which they felt comfortable.

“The group’s insights were really reflective and will be extremely helpful for us,” said Schliep, who noted that more than 20 survey participants will be recruited from Spaulding. “This is the kind of feedback we needed.”