CONTACT: JENNIFER CRONIN
2130 Medical Laboratories
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 335-5661; fax (319) 335-9917
Release: July 6, 1999
UI reading test is effective at identifying reading
problems due to brain injury
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Knowing you have a medical problem
or skill deficiency even though tests indicate you are fine can be frustrating,
as many individuals recovering from brain injuries can tell you. Most of these
patients pass conventional reading assessments, despite complaints of reading
difficulties. However, a University of Iowa test could verify the reading
difficulty these individuals have.
The Iowa-Chapman Reading Test appears to be more sensitive
than other assessments, able to pick up on even subtle reading problems. In
a recently published study, 89 percent of 64 patients with lingering complaints
of reading difficulties performed below expectations on the Iowa-Chapman test,
even though the patients did well on other standard tests.
"Ken Manzel, a senior technician in my lab, and I
had been intrigued by the fact that many patients with brain injuries said
they had trouble reading even after they passed the other tests," said Daniel
Tranel, Ph.D., UI professor of neurology. "We decided one of the problems
had to be the tests. Maybe the tests weren't doing the job."
To overcome some of the limitations of existing reading
assessments, UI researchers developed their own test based on the Chapman-Cook
Speed of Reading Test, originally created in the 1920s to determine silent
reading speed and comprehension in grade school children. The researchers
were hoping to avoid the ceiling effect found in most reading tests. The other
tests were so easy and the test takers had so much time to finish the exercise
that almost everyone passed. In contrast, patients must complete the Iowa-Chapman
test in two and a half minutes.
"It's pretty hard to do it in two and a half minutes,"
Tranel said. "You really have to hustle."
The Iowa-Chapman test consists of 25 one- to two-sentence
paragraphs, each of which contains one word in the second half of the passage
that spoils the meaning. For example, one of the items reads: Tom got badly
hurt the other day when fighting with his older brother. As soon as this happened,
he ran home to his mother, laughing as hard as he could. Participants
must read through the items and cross out the inappropriate word for each
passage as quickly as possible. The score is the number of items the patient
completes accurately within the time limit.
"It's quick, straightforward to give and very sensitive
to reading problems caused by brain injury," Tranel said.
Reading difficulty, or acquired alexia, can occur
when the left side of the brain, which houses centers for reading ability,
becomes damaged. The damage can occur from stroke, head injury, brain tumor
or brain infection. The chief complaint is being unable to read quickly with
"Although there is not much we can do as far as rehabilitating
the problem, we can at least give people feedback -- let them know that what
they are experiencing is real," Tranel said.
Tranels and Manzel's work looking at the effectiveness
of the Iowa-Chapman Reading Test appears in a recent issue of Developmental
Neuropsychology. The study was supported by a National Institute of Neurological
Disorders and Stroke Program Project Grant.