Italian woman using a laptop
Project Type - Pilot Projects

APP4PPA: a Remote Speech-language Therapy for Italian PPA

Improving access to speech-language services for primary progressive aphasia


Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a progressive neurological disorder that causes a gradual decline in communication ability due to the selective neurodegeneration of speech and language networks in the brain. PPA is a devastating condition affecting adults as young as their 40s or 50s, depriving them of the ability to communicate and function in society. Unfortunately, no pharmacological treatments are currently available that counteract or slow disease progression and the subsequent loss of speech/language abilities. Research documenting the efficacy of speech-language treatment for PPA is emerging but limited. In Italy, patients with PPA have scarce treatment options and frequently report difficulties accessing speech-language services (SLT), remaining mostly under-treated. To address this gap in care, a web app, APP4PPA, will be developed. 

Project Details

According to the clinical diagnosis and the current literature on PPA treatments, the training will be tailored to the patient's communication needs and clinical and linguistic profile. Each patient will undergo a 5-week remote therapy and cognitive/language assessments pre-therapy, post-therapy, and at 3-6-month follow-ups. We will measure functional communication abilities in daily living and evaluate the feasibility of remote therapy, including patients who would otherwise not have access to a rehabilitation service. We expect the quality of perceived communication abilities of patients to improve. Improving the communication abilities of patients with aphasia will lower social isolation and stigma as well as positively affect well-being. Patients can learn compensatory communication strategies to successfully overcome daily challenges and maintain autonomy/dignity for as long as possible. If this treatment proves effective, it will be utilized to overcome geographic barriers, providing access to unserved areas. Individuals in Italy will gain access to rehabilitation and be less stigmatized in society. The project will also speed up the dissemination of knowledge across neurologists, SLTs, and neuropsychologists, making them more aware of the importance of providing options for rehabilitation in the face of neurodegeneration.