Semantics, phonology, and syntax are essential elements of aphasia diagnosis and treatment. Until now, these linguistic components have not been specifically addressed in follow-up studies of aphasia recovery after stroke. The aim of this observational prospective follow-up study was to investigate semantic, phonological, and syntactic recovery in aphasic stroke patients. In addition, we investigated the recovery of verbal communication and of aphasia severity. We assessed 147 aphasic patients at 1, 2, and 6 weeks, 3 and 6 months, and 1 year after stroke with the ScreeLing, a screening test for detecting deficits on the three main linguistic components, the aphasia severity rating scale (ASRS), a measure of verbal communication, and the Token test, a measure of aphasia severity. We investigated the differences in scores between the six time points with mixed models. Semantics and syntax improved up to 6 weeks (p < 0.001) after stroke, and phonology up to 3 months (p ≤ 0.001). ASRS improved up to 6 months (p < 0.05) and the Token test up to 3 months (p < 0.001). We conclude that in aphasia after stroke, various linguistic components have a different recovery pattern, with phonology showing the longest period of recovery that paralleled aphasia severity, as measured with the Token test. The improvement of verbal communication continues after the stabilization of the recovery of the linguistic components.

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Journal of Neurology: official journal of the European Neurological Society
Department of Neurology

El Hachioui, H., Lingsma, H., van de Sandt-Koenderman, M., Dippel, D., Koudstaal, P., & Visch-Brink, E. (2013). Recovery of aphasia after stroke: A 1-year follow-up study. Journal of Neurology: official journal of the European Neurological Society, 260(1), 166–171. doi:10.1007/s00415-012-6607-2