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The Tavistock Trust For Aphasia

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Big Cactus - the findings

Big Cactus

The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia is pleased to have part funded Big Cactus.

Big CACTUS was a large, multi-centre, randomised, controlled trial that looked at a computerised approach to providing more speech and language therapy for people with aphasia.

The study was run by Dr Rebecca Palmer, over 5 years, at the University of Sheffield. It included 278 people with aphasia, in 21 Speech and Language Therapy Departments across the UK. The findings of the study are now available.

People with aphasia who participated in the trial, wanted the outcomes shared, not only on paper, but also through a short film. Here is a link to that film


Professor Jane Marshall OBE and Professor Pam Enderby OBE

The Trustees of The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia are so pleased to learn that Professor Jane Marshall from City University of London and Professor Pam Enderby, Emeritus Professor of Community Rehabilitation at the University of Sheffield have each been awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Jane and Pam are both previous recipients of The Robin Tavistock Award and we would like to send you both our congratulations.


The Robin Tavistock Award 2018

Professor Nina Simmons-Mackie

Professor Nina Simmons-Mackie

Henrietta Bedford and Nina Simmons-Mackie

Professor Nina Simmons-Mackie

Henrietta Bedford, Nina Simmons-Mackie and Nicole Campbell

The Robin Tavistock Award is presented annually to a person, or group, who is inspirational and has made a significant contribution to the field of aphasia. The Trustees are delighted to announce that Professor Nina Simmons-Mackie is the recipient of The Robin Tavistock Award this year.

As a clinician, Nina came to realise that for those with aphasia, the traditional methods of approaching therapy only went so far. She came to understand that people with aphasia often felt safe whilst having therapy, but were less confident ‘out there’ in society. A different and innovative way of thinking about, and approaching, speech and language pathology was necessary – even essential – if people with aphasia were going to fully participate in life again.

For Nina, finding ways for people with aphasia to fully access life became an enduring passion and mission – not only to help people improve their language, but also the quality of their lives, within their social setting. Nina’s academic research focused on social model approaches, putting the person with aphasia, and improving how they lead their lives, at the centre. Nina was also convinced that healthcare professionals needed more support in knowing how to care for those with communication difficulties.

Along with others, Nina founded Aphasia Access and in 2014 became its first President. Aphasia Access is dedicated to ensure ‘communicative access’ for all who have aphasia so that they are no longer excluded from decision making and participation. Aphasia Access provides resources and education for professionals, increases awareness and provides tools to support those who help people with aphasia.

It is not possible to list all Professor Simmons-Mackie’s achievements here. What is striking about Nina’s career is how it straddles so many strands of the aphasia world. Nina has made a significant contribution as a clinician and to academic research, through her work at the Southeastern Louisiana University, and she is known to be a generous mentor for others. She has also played an important role in a number of organisations, such as the National Aphasia Association, the Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders & Sciences and, more recently, Aphasia Access.

Nina is known for her quiet yet authoritative leadership, her strategic research and her gift for being able to go directly to the heart of a problem and apply her unerring wisdom. This is coupled with warmth and kindness, as well as a keen sense of humour. It is for her outstanding contribution to the world of aphasia that Professor Nina Simmons-Mackie is being honoured and is the first ever recipient of The Robin Tavistock Award from the United States of America.

The Trustees would like to thank the organising committee of the Clinical Aphasiology Conference 2018 for allowing them to make the presentation at their conference in Austin, Texas.


Speechless available via the Wellcome Trust website, is a documentary that tells the stories of two men, Junior Agogo and Barry, who can no longer use speech after suffering strokes. Much of the film is made in the Neurorehabilitation Unit of the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London's Queen Square.


Very Early Rehabilitation in Speech: An RCT of aphasia therapy after stroke (VERSE), Edith Cowan University, Australia


The Trustees of The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia are pleased to announce that they are part funding the Very Early Rehabilitation in Speech: An RCT of aphasia therapy after stroke (VERSE) research project at Edith Cowan University (ECU) in Australia. Over the next two years, this grant will support valuable research investigating the effect of early intensive aphasia therapy in the first six months following stroke.

Aphasia, a difficulty comprehending and expressing language affects more than 30 per cent of people who suffer a stroke.

Previous, smaller studies completed at ECU have shown that patients who received daily aphasia therapy as soon as possible following their stroke experienced less communication difficulties than those who received traditional treatment, which is usually provided at a much lesser intensity.

The research team, led by Associate Professor Erin Godecke, believe that the first 90 days post stroke represent a “window of opportunity” for neural changes to occur in the brain as part of neuroplasticity. Early therapy is thought to give people with aphasia a ‘head-start’ in recovery while the brain is open to natural healing processes. We used to think that aphasia therapy had to be done early, or the “window of opportunity” would close. There is also recent evidence showing that people with aphasia do very well in the chronic phase of recovery with intensive therapy. This should give hope to people with chronic post-stroke aphasia, and those who care for them, that significant gains can be achieved with intensive therapy years after stroke.

The VERSE study involves 246 participants from 16 sites across Australia and New Zealand. The study will provide vital information of international significance to the current evidence base for early aphasia recovery. VERSE will make the study resources available to clinicians and researchers around the world. This involves therapy training, therapy monitoring techniques and trial data. In doing this, the researchers hope to drive genuine and measurable clinical improvement in access to and quality of aphasia treatment for people after stroke.


Collaboration of Aphasia Trialists

Collaboration of Aphasia Trialists

The Trustees of the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia are delighted to announce a 3 year grant has been awarded to The Collaboration of Aphasia Trialists to fund the 2nd Phase of its development.

For a long time The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia has been aware of the importance of continually advancing standards of research within the aphasia world. We are thrilled to be funding the 2nd phase of CATs. We are particularly excited that this means that the Collaboration can expand its remit; which means it can include research relating to aphasia that is not only stroke related. It will also be able to include aphasia research from the United States and members of the Commonwealth, and beyond. We are excited to see how the next three years evolve for the Collaboration of Aphasia Trialists.

The Collaboration of Aphasia Trialists is an international, multidisciplinary network that currently comprises 150 members from across 26 countries. Established in 2013 with the support of the EU Cooperation in Science and Technology the membership includes experts in neurology, stroke rehabilitation, linguistics, neuropsychology, speech and language therapy, neuroscience, anthropology, audiology and statistics. Working in synergy across international boundaries, languages and disciplines this dynamic group support the development of high quality aphasia research which addresses the needs of people with aphasia, their families, health and social care providers and voluntary groups.

The 3 year grant provided by The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia will permit the early achievements of the Collaboration to be further developed, the network to extend its reach to members beyond the EU and in turn additional gains in aphasia research to be realised. With more emphasis on project work, grant development and capacity building alongside an even broader international reach, the second phase of the Collaboration will rely more on technology to support Collaboration communications. The Collaboration’s high quality interactive website ( will continue to support the activities of members.

“The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia funding offers us an exciting opportunity to further develop our multidisciplinary expertise in aphasia research and to develop an even broader international reach to undertake ambitious aphasia research activities. The new funding provided by the TTA will permit the early achievements of our research Collaboration to be further developed, the network to extend its reach to members beyond the EU and in turn additional gains in aphasia research to be realised.” Professor Marian Brady

For further information about the Collaboration please contact:

Twitter: @CATs_aphasia


The Trustees of The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia [TTA] are pleased to announce that specially designed badges have been created for all recipients of The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia Student Prizes.

The Student Prizes are now awarded at all universities who teach speech and language therapy in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Ireland. The Trustees would like to invite all past student prize winners to get in touch with the TTA, so that a badge can be mailed to you.

If you are a past winner, please could you get in touch with the TTA via email; please include a current postal address. We look forward to hearing from you.

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