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Internet delivery of intensive speech and language therapy for children with cerebral palsy: A pilot randomised controlled trial

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Lindsay Pennington, Elaine Stamp, Helen Kelly, Patricia Aluko, Dr Mukhrizah Othman, Dr Katie Brittain, Professor Luke ValeORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


Objectives: To test the feasibility of recruitment, retention, outcome measures and internet delivery of dysarthria therapy for young people with cerebral palsy in a randomised controlled trial. Design: Mixed methods. Single blind pilot randomised controlled trial, with control offered Skype therapy at end of study. Qualitative study of the acceptability of therapy delivery via Skype. Setting: Nine speech and language therapy departments in northern England recruited participants to the study. Skype therapy was provided in a university setting. Participants: Twenty two children (14 M, 8 F) with dysarthria and cerebral palsy (mean age 8.8 years (SD 3.2)) agreed to take part. Participants were randomised to dysarthria therapy via Skype (n=11) or treatment as usual (n=11). Interventions: Children received either usual speech therapy from their local therapist for six weeks or dysarthria therapy via Skype from a research therapist. Usual therapy sessions varied in frequency, duration and content. Skype dysarthria therapy focussed on breath control and phonation to produce clear speech at a steady rate, and comprised three 40-minute sessions per week for six weeks. Primary and secondary outcome measures: Feasibility and acceptability of the trial design, intervention and outcome measures. Results: Departments recruited two to three participants. All participants agreed to random allocation. None withdrew from the study. Recordings of children’s speech were made at all time points and rated by listeners. Families allocated to Skype dysarthria therapy judged internet delivery of the therapy to be acceptable. All families reported that the study design was acceptable. Treatment integrity checks suggested that the phrases practiced in one therapy exercise should be reduced in length. Conclusions: A delayed treatment design, in which dysarthria therapy is offered at the end of the study to families allocated to treatment as usual, is acceptable. A randomised controlled trial of internet delivered dysarthria therapy is feasible.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pennington L, Stamp E, Smith J, Kelly H, Parker N, Stockwell K, Aluko P, Othman M, Brittain K, Vale L

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: BMJ Open

Year: 2018

Volume: 9

Issue: 1

Online publication date: 30/01/2019

Acceptance date: 19/11/2018

Date deposited: 30/10/2019

ISSN (electronic): 2044-6055

Publisher: BMJ Publishing Group


DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-024233


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PB-PG- 0712-28077