BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The factors associated with recovery of language domains after stroke remain uncertain. We described recovery of overall-language-ability, auditory comprehension, naming, and functional-communication across participants' age, sex, and aphasia chronicity in a large, multilingual, international aphasia dataset.
METHODS: Individual participant data meta-analysis of systematically sourced aphasia datasets described overall-language ability using the Western Aphasia Battery Aphasia-Quotient; auditory comprehension by Aachen Aphasia Test (AAT) Token Test; naming by Boston Naming Test and functional-communication by AAT Spontaneous-Speech Communication subscale. Multivariable analyses regressed absolute score-changes from baseline across language domains onto covariates identified a priori in randomized controlled trials and all study types. Change-from-baseline scores were presented as estimates of means and 95% CIs. Heterogeneity was described using relative variance. Risk of bias was considered at dataset and meta-analysis level.
RESULTS: Assessments at baseline (median=43.6 weeks poststroke; interquartile range [4-165.1]) and first-follow-up (median=10 weeks from baseline; interquartile range [3-26]) were available for n=943 on overall-language ability, n=1056 on auditory comprehension, n=791 on naming and n=974 on functional-communication. Younger age (<55 years, +15.4 Western Aphasia Battery Aphasia-Quotient points [CI, 10.0-20.9], +6.1 correct on AAT Token Test [CI, 3.2-8.9]; +9.3 Boston Naming Test points [CI, 4.7-13.9]; +0.8 AAT Spontaneous-Speech Communication subscale points [CI, 0.5-1.0]) and enrollment <1 month post-onset (+19.1 Western Aphasia Battery Aphasia-Quotient points [CI, 13.9-24.4]; +5.3 correct on AAT Token Test [CI, 1.7-8.8]; +11.1 Boston Naming Test points [CI, 5.7-16.5]; and +1.1 AAT Spontaneous-Speech Communication subscale point [CI, 0.7-1.4]) conferred the greatest absolute change-from-baseline across each language domain. Improvements in language scores from baseline diminished with increasing age and aphasia chronicity. Data exhibited no significant statistical heterogeneity. Risk-of-bias was low to moderate-low.
CONCLUSIONS: Earlier intervention for poststroke aphasia as crucial to maximize language recovery across a range of language domains, although recovery continued to be observed to a lesser extent beyond 6 months poststroke.