What is Constraint Induced Aphasia Therapy (CIAT) all about?

By: Ali Sheperd

Posted: 26th July 2018

The therapy

Constraint Induced Aphasia Therapy (CIAT) is based on the ideas of the better known Constraint Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT). CIMT is delivered by a specialist occupational therapist (OT) or physiotherapist and has a large evidence base of research to show that constraining the movement of a patient’s good limb (by a light cast) forces them to use their weaker muscles. The use of the weaker limbs trains the muscles and the brain back into being able to use them effectively.

CIAT uses a similar concept to help encourage the use of verbal language after a stroke. It is a short term but intensive therapy programme that aims to temporarily constrain a person’s compensatory strategies (writing, drawing) so that they are forced to use their language as speech as their first choice for communication. Constraint Induced Aphasia Therapy encourages the individual to avoid using compensatory techniques (e.g. gestures, pointing, writing down) if their speech, language or communication has been affected by their stroke. CIAT is typically delivered over 30 hours of speech and language therapy over the course of 2 weeks. CIAT is specifically designed for those who have acquired aphasia after a stroke, the therapy is developing but already there have been reported success stories regarding the use of CIAT after stroke.

So, what is aphasia?

People with aphasia will have lost some or all of their language, this can either be their understanding of language or their use of language (expression). Aphasia is most commonly caused by a stroke and the changes in the brain cause language difficulties. CIAT is most beneficial for those that have lost their use of language rather than their understanding of language, but any form of speech and language therapy can help reduce the negative aspects of aphasia and other symptoms of stroke.

The benefits of CIAT

CIAT can sound like an intimidating and intensive therapy, it is not an easy option for patients, however there are many benefits once a patient has committed themselves (with enthusiasm) to the therapy. Constraint Induced Aphasia Therapy overall, enhances the use of a patient’s speech, once it has been lost and everyone has the right to use their voice.

If you feel you may benefit from speech and language therapy or would like any more information on our services please email office@slt.co.uk or call 0330 088 5643.

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