Read-Right: a "web app" that improves reading speeds in patients with hemianopia.
Ong YH., Brown MM., Robinson P., Plant GT., Husain M., Leff AP.
Effective behavioral therapies exist for patients with brain injury. The main issue is one of access. Can the internet be used as a resource so that suitable patients can build up enough practice to improve? We tested this hypothesis using a web-based application for patients with a right-sided hemianopia causing slow text reading. We studied 33 patients aged 26-81 years who fitted the entry criteria and accessed the therapy website between May 2010 and December 2011, in a longitudinal cohort study. The therapy consisted of reading animated, laterally scrolling text whose content and form was selected by the patients. Reading speeds on static text (main outcome) were assessed after every 5-h period of practice had been accrued. Statistical analysis was carried out using a repeated measures ANOVA. Read-Right therapy produced significant improvements in text reading speeds at all time points with a clear dose effect: 10 % at 5 h, 20 % at 10 h, 39 % at 15 h and 46 % at 20 h. Sub-analyses demonstrated that this was unlikely to be due to either multiple exposure to the testing materials (familiarity) or to the simple passage of time. This is the first example of a clinically proven therapy being delivered effectively to stroke patients over the internet. As therapists' time is more limited than patients' capacity to improve, carefully designed, web-based resources like Read-Right represent a realistic way of delivering a sufficient therapy dose to patients so they can obtain clinically meaningful improvements.