June is National Aphasia Awareness Month!

June is National Aphasia Awareness Month. Join us as we raise awareness of this little known condition that affects up to 40% of stroke survivors.

This month, Lingraphica joins our friends at the National Aphasia Association, Aphasia Access, and National Stroke Association, as we seek to raise awareness of aphasia.

Aphasia is a communication disorder that affects a person’s ability to process and use language. It is a neurological condition caused by damage to the portions of the brain responsible for language, and it does not affect intelligence. Because language plays such a central role in our daily lives, aphasia can be very challenging. Individuals with aphasia may find it difficult to speak, understand speech, and read and write. Approximately 25-40% of stroke survivors develop aphasia.

The type and severity of aphasia depends on the precise location and extent of the damaged brain tissue. Aphasia can range from mild—where a task like retrieving the names of objects is difficult—to severe—where any type of communication is almost impossible.

While a diagnosis of aphasia can be a tough one, there is hope. Lingraphica has conducted over 30 years of research, which serves as the foundation for the apps, therapy, and devices that we create to help people with aphasia. These tools help people find meaningful and helpful ways to share their wants and needs, personal information, and safety information, which includes information about pain or symptoms of illness.

You can help spread awareness, too! Simply share our posts on your own Facebook page or comment on ours. Creating a dialogue about these important topics is vitally important–especially when it can save someone’s life.

Whether you are a follower of Lingraphica’s Facebook page or have never visited, we encourage you to join the conversation around aphasia awareness. We’ll be using the hashtags #aphasia and #AphasiaAwareness in many of our posts…feel free to do the same with your own.

 

USC receives $11 million grant to help with stroke recovery research

shutterstock_358446878by Destiny Chance
Columbia, SC — The National Institutes of Health gave the University of South Carolina $11 million to study aphasia. Aphasia is a condition caused by stroke that affects a person’s ability to read, write, and speak. According to the CDC in 2014 South Carolina was the state with the 7th highest stroke death rate in the nation.With this new grant, USC’s main goal is to improve rehabilitation and recovery, hoping to have patients complete at least two months of therapy.USC’s Julius Fridriksson is the professor that received this grant, and says South Carolina typically doesn’t receive these type of grants and highlights how it’s competitive to the whole country.

“Anybody from any institution could apply for this. So this is a big influx of money, but here in our state the need is very great.”

He adds by saying, “in the U.S. about 1 million people have aphasia and we haven’t done a very good job helping them cope with a very difficult situation, because when you can’t speak and comprehend very well that makes for a very difficult life.”

Fridriksson relies on detailed pictures of the brains and stroke patients, because it shows blood flow, and functionality of the brain to help researchers better understand changes related to stroke and recovery.

Fridriksson says, “the study we are about to take on, once we finish it, is going to be the largest study of aphasia recovery in the past couple of decades.”

The grant will allow work on 4 major projects:

-Work with chronic patients, assessing a patient’s neurophysiology before starting treatment, providing behavioral treatment, and trying to predict who will respond well or poorly to treatment

-Assess patients who have just had a stroke

-Build a model who’s most likely to recover and who’s not, based on factors of patients

-A study that looks at models of speech and language in normal people and then relating those to recovery in patients

He says the first thing they want to know is why there are inconsistencies in who responds to treatments.

The grant will last 5 years, and Fridriksson says he hopes 35 years from now the grant will be continually renewed. USC will start using the funds April 1st.

If you would like more information on how you can receive free stroke rehabilitation through this grant, call (803) 777-2693.

Technology xxxxx!

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I was going to post a blog on Aphasia Awareness and how we are making headway:

It’s Aphasia Awareness Month! Spread the Word!

Did you know millions of Americans have aphasia?! Many individuals have never heard of the communication disorder. Help us change this during Aphasia Awareness Month! Join LingraphicaAphasiaAccess, and the National Aphasia Association and answer the question, what one word would you use to describe aphasia and why? Share your answer as part of our “Finding Words: Stories of Aphasia” campaign. Follow the three steps below to participate:

——

As a practice, I write some of my own stuff (it is pretty clear when I do THAT) and then I look at other things that I think readers care about.

But today, TECHNOLOGY is frustrating!

I got most of my “warm” calling done so I decided to take 15 minutes and post the Aphasia write up.  That is when my computer had problems.

At first, I just thought my connection slowed down.  As I patiently waited for my website to load, I decided to go onto another site and see if they had problems.  It loaded right away.  Thinking it was a fluke, I went to ANOTHER site…and it quickly loaded.

I decided to re-start my computer (this is what tech support always asks you to do). After the reboot, the same thing happened!  I decided to write this post in Pages, while I STILL waited for my site to load.  After more than 30 minutes, it was finally WORKING again!

You would think something was wrong…but it was just a technical difficulty.  How many time do we let technology mess us up?  I was once considered a tech guru…willing to find the problem and fix it….even if it took most of the day.  Now, I am like the rest of them…frustrated!

As I think back, why am I so frustrated?  Really, every things is just fine. We have our twist and turns, but everything ALWAYS works out.

Now, I feel better because things ALWAYS work out; It never fails.

How is your life going ….and do you let the little things bother you?

Is Aphasia bad?

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YES!  I know; I have it. Listen to Carl McIntyre’s story….

Kathryn Marshall 

Carl McIntyre made the movie “Aphasia” in 2010, five years after a stroke damaged 80 percent of his brain’s left hemisphere, thus severely impairing his processes of communication. McIntyre shared the movie and his presentation, “Hope is a Four Letter Word,” in Carroll Auditorium at Saint Mary’s on Thursday night.

Susan Latham, chair of the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders at the College, said aphasia is a communicative disorder that inhibits language but not intellect, resulting in the loss of the ability to speak and listen. Despite facing this situation and receiving news that he may never speak again, McIntyre continued to make improvements, Latham said.

“Carl starred as himself in a short film, recounting his story to adapt to the incredible changes in his life,” she said. “Now, he tours around the world, presenting the movie and motivating people with his story.”

Before his stroke, McIntyre worked as a teacher, actor and salesman. In the movie, McIntyre reenacts a year and a half of therapy and learning following the stroke, indicating how losing the ability to communicate changed both his and his family’s life. A presentation given by McIntyre followed the movie.

Aphasia Sucks!

“Having a stroke sucks,” McIntyre said. “Aphasia really sucks. Before I had a stroke, life is good. … Job is voice — actor, teacher and really good sales. … But after stroke, everything’s different. I can’t speak, and I can’t read or write. Nothing, absolutely nothing.”

A year and a half after the stroke, he was no better, McIntyre said. Being trapped in one’s head is a prison where there are disappointments everyday, he said.

“I remember saying, ‘Live or die, I don’t care. I’m over life,’” he said. “Bad place, really dark, dark place. But Carl is Carl and most times I’m happy.”

McIntyre’s recovery was a multi-step process. The first step was to mourn and realize he was no longer the same as the ‘Old Carl,’ he said. He then wrote the word ‘acceptance’ on a large paper pad — the second step towards recovery.

“I’m still here,” he said after writing the word. “I’m still relevant and no fear — fearless. … There is hope, hope is everything. No love, no life. … I love to live again, and I love hope.”

Another step in the process is hope, McIntyre said, and the final step is progress. No matter if it’s big or small, progress every day matters, he said.

He said he is lucky because he is still able to walk, and even though his right side is weaker and his timing is off, he is still able to toss a baseball with his son.

McIntyre said having purpose is also very important. Right now his purpose is the movie, he said.

“My brain is always on,” he said. “And faster every year because I’m working every day. … I’m trying.”

McIntyre said once insurance ran out and he could not pay for certain therapy programs, he did, and continues to, learn to speak again through free study subject programs at various universities. When learning to speak, associating words with pictures is necessary — such as breaking the word “when” into “w-hen,” while thinking of the bird, he said.

The best advice he can pass onto future speech therapists and families is patience, he said.

“Lot of patience because today is a good day, tomorrow not too much,” McIntyre said. “But patience can never quit. … I’m lucky because friends help life back … and understand I never be the same. My brain is fine. I can’t speak, but I’m no dummy.”

“One person understands me, I’m over the moon,” he said. “I know I never be the same, and every day is hard. But every day is good too. Possibilities, endless possibilities. … Aphasia, still sucks, but I win every day and you can too.”

Aphasia, post-stroke loss of speech, can be compensated by right side of the brain

By: Bel Marra Health | Brain Function

Aphasia is a condition that occurs post-stroke and results in a loss of speech. Research suggests that it can be compensated for by the right side of the brain. Previous research suggested that the right side of the brain actually interfered with recovery post-stroke, but the new findings suggest that the back, right side of the brain can actually aid in speech recovery.The study examined grey matter volume and its role in speech and how speech can be recovered. The researchers found that patients who regained their voice post-stroke also had more grey matter volume in the back right hemisphere of the brain.

Senior author, Peter Turkeltaub, M.D., Ph.D., said, “Over the past decade, researchers have increasingly suggested that the right hemisphere interferes with good recovery of language after left hemisphere strokes. Our results suggest the opposite – that right hemisphere compensation improves recovery.”

Speech and language loss, known as aphasia, occurs in one-third of stroke patients and they never fully regain it back.

In a group of 32 stroke survivors whose left hemisphere was affected, grey matter volume in the back right hemisphere led to greater success of recovering speech and language. The stroke survivors were compared to 30 other individuals as a control group.

Furthermore, those with recovered speech areas had a larger right hemisphere. Dr. Turkeltaub added, “This indicates growth in these brain areas that relates to better speech production after a stroke.”

Aphasia causes

Aphasia causesAphasia is caused by brain damage, most commonly a result of stroke. There are four different aphasia types: expressive, receptive, global and nominal. Expressive aphasia is when a person knows what they want to say but are unable to find the words to express themselves. Receptive aphasia is when a person hears someone or reads words but cannot understand what they just heard or read. Global aphasia is when there is widespread damage to language and the person cannot speak or understand language. Lastly, nominal aphasia is when a person cannot use the right terms for objects, people, places or events – this is the least severe form.

Aphasia symptoms

The type of aphasia a person has can determine the symptoms they experience. Common symptoms of aphasia include:

  • Speaking in short or incomplete sentences
  • Speaking in sentences that don’t make sense
  • Substituting one word/sound for another
  • Using unrecognizable words
  • Not being able to understand other people’s conversation
  • Writing sentences that don’t make sense

Aphasia treatment

Aphasia treatmentIf brain damage caused by stroke is mild, language recovery may be possible through speech and language therapy. Therapy is most effective when administered early on – research has supported the idea that speech therapy should occur soon after the brain injury has occurred.

Therapy may also be effective in group settings, where communication skills can be practiced in a safe environment free of judgment.  Also, speech therapy may involve the use of computers to assist in the re-learning of verbs and word sounds.

Lastly, although there are no proven medications that can restore language in aphasia, they continue to be studied.

My poor Husband…

In case you read Gordon’s post from yesterday–I am sorry.  After he wrote about struggling with speech, he noted that he was going to write an “FU” script.  Please know that in his mind, that meant a ‘Follow Up” script, not a middle finger script.

I asked him if he read that post out loud so he could hear how it sounded BEFORE he clicked Publish.  He said yes and was a little offended at the implication that there were problems with it.  After all, he spends a lot of time writing those posts.  When I read it out loud to him, we both had a good laugh.  Thank God that through all this, Gordon has kept his sense of humor.

Although he didn’t mean it to be this way, Gordon’s last post demonstrated his difficulty with language and organized thinking.  We have been talking about his aphasia for 6 years.  Suddenly, for some unknown reason, he latched onto it this week as if it were a big surprise.  Is his sudden awareness of language difficulty a step forward or a step backward?

Jill Viggiano

I have aphasia!

 

Unknown

There…I said it!  I have aphasia.

I really don’t think I thought about it; I just KNEW something was wrong with me.

Aphasia is kind of scary; It means you can’t get words out. The minute I hear a aphasia, I think of the guys who can only say Yes and No…and that’s it…that is all they could a say!

I don’t want people to put me in that group. But I do have problems getting the words out…especially when it has to do my life now.  I can talk to people quite easily. I can ask about their job, where they went to school, what they are working on now, sports, etc.  When they start to ask about ME, that’s where I have trouble.  I can’t tell them what I do!!!  My own WIFE has trouble asking me about what I do.  I don’t know WHY I have such a tough time with this.

The result: I just freeze!!!  Nothing comes out.  People here this and will say… I have aphasia.    That is where I want to prove them wrong.

I am beginning to try scripting the FU talk, and I THINK it will work.  I just need to test it on a few people and see how it goes.  If the script works, I will have the next phase in my marketing plan working!