Adjunctive approaches to aphasia rehabilitation: A review on efficacy and safety

Chiara Picano, Agnese Quadrini, Francesca Pisano, Paola Marangolo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Aphasia is one of the most socially disabling post-stroke deficits. Although traditional therapies have been shown to induce adequate clinical improvement, aphasic symptoms often persist. Therefore, unconventional rehabilitation techniques which act as a substitute or as an adjunct to traditional approaches are urgently needed. The present review provides an overview of the efficacy and safety of the principal approaches which have been proposed over the last twenty years. First, we examined the effectiveness of the pharmacological approach, principally used as an adjunct to language therapy, reporting the mechanism of action of each single drug for the recovery of aphasia. Results are conflicting but promising. Secondly, we discussed the application of Virtual Reality (VR) which has been proven to be useful since it potentiates the ecological validity of the language therapy by using virtual contexts which simulate real-life everyday contexts. Finally, we focused on the use of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS), both discussing its applications at the cortical level and highlighting a new perspective, which considers the possibility to extend the use of tDCS over the motor regions. Although the review reveals an extraordinary variability among the different studies, substantial agreement has been reached on some general principles, such as the necessity to consider tDCS only as an adjunct to traditional language therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number41
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


  • Aphasia rehabilitation
  • Pharmacological approach
  • Post-stroke aphasia
  • Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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