Most individuals who experience aphasia after a stroke recover to some extent, with the majority of gains taking place in the first year. The nature and time course of this recovery process is only partially understood, especially its dependence on lesion location and extent, which are the most important determinants of outcome. The aim of this study was to provide a comprehensive description of patterns of recovery from aphasia in the first year after stroke.
We recruited 334 patients with acute left hemisphere supratentorial ischaemic or haemorrhagic stroke and evaluated their speech and language function within 5 days using the Quick Aphasia Battery (QAB). At this initial time point, 218 patients presented with aphasia. Individuals with aphasia were followed longitudinally, with follow-up evaluations of speech and language at 1 month, 3 months, and 1 year post-stroke, wherever possible. Lesions were manually delineated based on acute clinical MRI or CT imaging. Patients with and without aphasia were divided into 13 groups of individuals with similar, commonly occurring patterns of brain damage. Trajectories of recovery were then investigated as a function of group (i.e. lesion location and extent) and speech/language domain (overall language function, word comprehension, sentence comprehension, word finding, grammatical construction, phonological encoding, speech motor programming, speech motor execution, and reading).