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The Tavistock Trust For Aphasia

Funded Projects and Research


The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia has given over £2,000,000 since its inception in 1996.

The Trust has supported many research and other projects, including those at: Birkbeck College, University College London, Newcastle University, University of Plymouth, University of East Anglia, Connect, Speakeasy, City Lit, Speakability, City University, and Sheffield University.

In association with the Speech and Language Therapy Research Unit based at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia has developed the Aphasia Software Finder. This website, launched in September 2011, aims to help people with aphasia, their families and friends, speech and language therapists and academics to find software and apps that could help improve communication. This was made possible with the generous support of The Eranda Rothschild Foundation.

Visit the website:


Some of our current projects


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


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


City University London

Investigating aphasia: Eva Park projects at City University London

The Trustees of The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia are funding two new projects at City University London. Researchers at City will further investigate how a virtual world called Eva Park can improve communication for people with aphasia.

Researchers at City University London have been awarded two new grants to further investigate how a virtual world called Eva Park can improve communication following a stroke.

Eva Park is a virtual island that was created by the research team at City with initial funding from the Stroke Association. It was designed with and for people with aphasia (a language impairment often due to stroke). Eva Park is a colourful quirky place with a range of functional locations, such as a restaurant, bar, health centre and hairdressers. There are also green spaces and elements of fantasy. For example there is a lake containing a pearl oyster and a mermaid. Eva Park is a place where people with aphasia can practice social conversations and gain confidence. Several people can use Eva Park at the same time. They are represented by personalised avatars and communicate through speech, using a headset and a microphone. Eva Park won the prestigious Tech4Good 2015 People’s Award.

Eva Park Open Day at Woburn Safari Park, Thursday 25th February 2016 Eva Park Open Day at Woburn Safari Park, Thursday 25th February 2016

The new grants follow on from a recently completed three year project which showed that Eva Park can be used successfully to provide language stimulation for people with aphasia. Twenty people had five weeks access to Eva Park, with daily sessions from a support worker, in which they conversed, carried out role plays and had group discussions. Results showed that the Eva Park intervention was very well received and brought about significant improvements on a measure of functional communication.

One of the new projects will employ a software developer who will transform the technology from a prototype to a version that can be released to aphasia support services across the UK. The other project will further explore the therapeutic potential of Eva Park. Using single case experimental designs it will investigate whether Eva Park can be used to deliver specific language treatments, for example targeting word finding or sentence building. Both projects will produce freely available manuals and guidance materials, so that other centres can run the software independently and exploit the therapeutic opportunities of Eva Park.

Speaking about the new grants, Professor Jane Marshall, who leads the Eva Park team, said:

“The social impact of aphasia is huge, with over 350,000 people living with the condition in the UK. Finding effective treatment responses is a priority. We are keen for Eva Park to become a mainstream therapy resource that is widely available to people with aphasia. We hope it can provide opportunities to practise functional and social conversations and to work on specific therapy goals. This funding from The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia is a major step forward in making this happen.”

The Eva Park team is a collaboration between researchers in the Division of Language and Communication Science and the Centre for Human Computer Interaction Design, both at City University London. See:


Match funding for the Aphasia Communication and Research Centre for people with aphasia and their families in Sheffield

University of Sheffield

The Trustees of the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia continue to support the Aphasia Communication and Research Centre within the Department of Human Communication Sciences at the University of Sheffield. Following the success of the one year Pilot Scheme which was set up last year, the Trust is pleased to continue to part fund the Aphasia Centre until August 2019. This funding will be matched by the University or a third party.

The Centre provides, amongst other things, a place for people with aphasia and their families to meet and find support, and it provides opportunities for students to develop key skills.

Those who benefit include:

  • People with aphasia - a Centre dedicated to their needs will lead to better lives for people with aphasia in the Sheffield area
  • Students in speech and language therapy, research Masters students, and PhD students will learn about aphasia from people with aphasia
  • Research in the department will be enhanced through the close involvement of people with aphasia in designing and carrying out projects
  • Local speech & language therapists will enhance their services through collaborations with the Centre, through referring clients for specific services and through working with staff and students in the Communication Centre.

The Communication Centre aims to:

  • Provide functional goal directed communication support to people with aphasia and their families
  • Develop novel training opportunities for students, including delivering therapy remotely and through computers
  • Develop research ideas that reflect the concerns of people with aphasia
  • Complement the existing speech and language therapy services for people with aphasia in Sheffield

For further information about the Centre please contact:

Dr Ruth Herbert or

Janet Walmsley

Telephone: 0114 22 22 403


A Speech and Language Therapist internship for a newly qualified therapist in association with the Intensive Communication Groups for people with aphasia (ICGA) project at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

Queen Margaret University

The Trustees of The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia are supporting an internship for a newly qualified Speech and Language Therapist. The internship is a structured and supported position within the therapy team offering an intensive communication group for people with aphasia and their communication partners at Queen Margaret University. The position is designed to provide continuous professional development and an opportunity for the intern to build new skills or develop existing ones further. Previous internships have cited the experience as an opportunity for in-depth understanding of aphasia and its consequences for the individual and partners. The internship aims to increase confidence and enhance subsequent employability as a Speech and Language Therapist. This is the 4th year of the ICGA project which will run over an intensive 3 week period in summer 2016.

The project benefits people with aphasia, communication partners, interns and specialists from speech and language therapy and supporting disciplines.


The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia are part funding Big CACTUS


Big Cactus

The Trustees of The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia are part funding the Big CACTUS research project, which is based at University of Sheffield, as is being carried out in collaboration with the University of Manchester and Glasgow Caledonian University. The team were awarded a substantial grant from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Health Technology Assessment (HTA) programme to fund the study. The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia were invited to participate in providing key funding, not covered by the NIHR HTA’s grant.

Big CACTUS is a pragmatic randomised controlled trial (RCT) to compare outcomes for people with persistent aphasia using computerised speech and language therapy at home with those having usual care (standard speech and language therapy provision or general daily communication activity), or attention control (daily completion of puzzle book activities).

Aphasia is a communication disorder often caused by stroke. It affects the ability to understand, talk, read and write. People with aphasia rarely receive treatment from NHS speech and language therapists for more than 3 months. It has been established that people with aphasia can continue to improve their communication with prolonged treatment (beyond 12 months), but this is rarely available.

Step-by-Step is a computer program designed to help people to practise exercises to improve their ability to find the correct words when they are talking. Following a successful pilot study (CACTUS), Big CACTUS aims to compare computer therapy with attention control (puzzle books) and usual care to see if use of computer software with assistance from a volunteer/speech therapy assistant can improve the ability of people with aphasia to talk.

This research will establish whether people with aphasia can continue to improve their ability to talk after completion of traditional NHS therapy, and whether this can be achieved cost effectively by offering computer treatment at home. Potential benefits to patients include the opportunity for continued treatment and thus improved ability to talk. It could also give patients independence and control over their therapy. The NHS would benefit by being able to support a long term aphasia treatment service without increasing demand on therapy resources.


Aphasia Software Finder


The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia commissioned Dr Brian Petheram at the Speech & Language Therapy Research Unit based at Frenchay Hospital to develop a website to be called the Aphasia Software Finder.

The aim of the website is to help people with aphasia, their families and friends, speech and language therapists and/or academics to find software that could help improve communication.

The plan is to gather onto one website information about all available aphasia software therapies in the English language.

The website was launched on the 6th September 2011. The website will continue to be maintained and developed for the foreseeable future.


The Tavistock Aphasia Centre at Newcastle University


Newcastle University

In 1999 the Trust funded the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at the University of Newcastle to set up an Aphasia Treatment Clinic in the centre of Newcastle. Using space provided by the University, the Trust funded the refurbishment of rooms into intensive aphasia treatment facilities.

The Tavistock Aphasia Centre, formally known as the North East Aphasia Centre, serves three major functions:

  • It offers high quality intensive treatment to clients with aphasia
  • Ensures students are trained to the highest possible standards in the assessment and treatment of aphasic disorders
  • Promotes research into aphasic disorders and their treatment

The Centre offers:

  • Intensive group and individual therapy to clients with aphasia
  • Clients attend for three days a week over a period of twelve weeks
  • Clients come from a range of areas within the North East (and sometimes beyond)
  • Local speech and language therapists refer people with aphasia to the centre

Further Funding for Therapy Resources

Following previous funding to set up the Aphasia Centre for intensive therapy at the University, funding was granted to the Centre to build on existing good practice by developing sets of therapy materials. The therapy resources have been developed based on current theoretical models and the experience of working with people with aphasia within The Tavistock Aphasia Centre, based at Newcastle University. They have been compiled by Janet Webster, Julie Morris, Anne Whitworth and David Howard.

The resources are presented in separate DVD packages:

  • Written word comprehension link to each area
  • Verb & sentence processing
  • Auditory processing

The materials are designed to be used by speech and language therapists and for guided use by student speech and language therapists.

For more information about the Therapy Resources and where they can be purchased, please go to or email

The Tavistock Aphasia Centre

Speech and Language Sciences Section

King George VI Building

Newcastle University

Queen Victoria Road


Newcastle upon Tyne

Tel: 0191 222 8550

Fax: 0191 222 6518


Or visit the website at:


As a direct result of the Centre, a charity called the Comm-Unity, NETA's Aphasia Support Centre (North East Trust for Aphasia) was formed. The majority of trustees are either people with aphasia or their carers. NETA aims to help people with aphasia and their carers get the support they need and want. Currently they fund a Support Centre in Newcastle, which runs one day per week, helping people to move forward with their aphasia. Some of their short-term objectives are:

  • Raising the profile of people with aphasia
  • Seeking continued funding for the aphasia clinic at the University
  • Supporting specific projects for people with aphasia and their carers, such as the Support Centre
  • Developing an information website for people with aphasia
  • To develop a befriending scheme, where people with aphasia can be visited by volunteers

For further information please visit the website at


Some of our past projects


University of East Anglia


University of East Anglia

A study funded by the TTA ‘Developing a Conversation and Communication Questionnaire for people with Aphasia’ led by Simon Horton at the University of East Anglia was completed in August 2015.

The Conversation and Communication Questionnaire for People with Aphasia (CCQA) has been designed as a self-report measure of participation in conversation for people with aphasia, particularly in the evaluation of Conversation Partner scheme experiences.

The Speech and Hearing Sciences department at University College Cork are using the CCQA in an evaluation of their student-based Conversation Partner Scheme. This will allow the developers to examine data on the use of CCQA in an independent study and will provide further validation for the measure.

The project will be written up for publication in Journals and promoted through aphasia-related organisations.


Speakeasy - Supporting Communication Recovery



Speakeasy is a charity in the North West whose mission statement is to make a positive difference to the lives of people who have aphasia and their carers.

In 2007 the Trust funded a 3 year pilot study linking Speakeasy with the ground breaking work of Jane Mortley of Step by Step Consultancy and has continued with financial support for the active use of the IT suite. Computer therapy within the setting of Speakeasy offers a supportive, purposeful environment which encourages people with aphasia to view computers as part of the therapeutic process within a group social setting. This is distinct from the therapy and support currently available through the Nationals Health Service. Some members of the group have given feedback for the Aphasia Software Finder project at Frenchay which has helped in making the website aphasia friendly.

Information about Speakeasy can be found on their website:


Remote Aphasia Therapy Project at City University London


City University London

The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia and The Charles Wolfson Charitable Trust jointly funded a research pilot study at City University, led by Professor Jane Marshall. The project commenced in October 2012 and completed in November 2013.

The study explored speech and language therapy for aphasia delivered over the internet. The project looked at the effects of word finding therapy carried out using Internet Video Conferencing Technology. It investigated the effects of treatment on word finding and conversation. It also explored the support that people with aphasia need to use this technology and whether they liked receiving therapy over the internet.

Word finding difficulties are a common feature of aphasia, and cause breakdowns in communication. This can lead to distress and frustration. Speech and language therapy can reduce word finding difficulties and their impact on conversation. However, provision of therapy is often limited by resource constraints, and there can be difficulties accessing services particularly for people who live in remote areas or who cannot travel easily to clinics.

The study recruited fifteen people with aphasia and tested them using Face-to-face delivery of a standard therapy for word-finding, the same therapy delivered over the internet from a clinical site, and Supported Conversation delivered over the internet. A linked project, funded by the BUPA Foundation, tested the same therapy delivered over the internet with a further five people. Together, the results of these two studies will test the feasibility of a larger trial.

The study was a collaboration between researchers from the Division of Language & Communication Science, the Centre for Health Services Research and the Centre for Human Computer Interaction Design at City University London, together with the Adult Speech & Language Therapy department at the Homerton University Hospital Foundation NHS Trust. The grant holders are Professor Jane Marshall (Principle Investigator), Dr Celia Woolf (Project Manager), Dr Shashivadan Hirani & Stephanie Wilson.


Funding for Speakability's 'Group Development Project'



The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia is funding the establishment of four new Speakability Self-Help Groups.

The new Self-Help Group in Braintree, Essex is currently supporting 14 individuals with Aphasia and is at present meeting monthly at Braintree & Bocking Community Centre.

The new Forth Valley and Fort William Speakability Self-Help Groups have been developed in Scotland. This Group which meets monthly at the Raploch Community Centre in Forth Valley, Stirling is currently supporting 7 individuals with Aphasia.

The new West Kent Self-Help Group will soon be developed.

Speakability Members say:

“I look forward to our meetings. It’s one thing I do.”

“This is good. I have friends. I relax. I am getting words.”

“Laughing again. Having friends who understand. It’s great.”

For more information about Speakability Aphasia Self-Help Groups please contact: Melanie Derbyshire on 0207 261 9572 or visit their website


iTalk: A web-based speech therapy application for patients with aphasia


Led by Dr Alexander Leff, Consultant Neurologist, National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery and University College London, Dr Jenny Crinion, Speech and Language Therapist, University College London.

The main aim is to develop an interactive, web-based, speech therapy application designed to improve the language function of patients with aphasia. After testing in a clinical trial, the application will be made available via the internet, world-wide, for any patient, their carer or therapist to use.

For treatments like speech therapy, the main issue is one of access. There is good evidence that speech therapy has been shown to be effective in patients with aphasia but it is time-consuming and thus costly. Given current restraints on spending in most healthcare systems, other approaches need to be considered. An interactive, web-based application could be the ideal solution. With some supervision from a Speech and Language Therapist patients can access proven therapies when and where they want to. The target population is patients with aphasia caused by stroke.

This clinical project harnesses the strengths of the internet making its therapeutic impact potentially huge.

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