Aphasia: The disorder that makes you lose your words - Susan Wortman-Jutt
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People mistakenly think that aphasia only happens to older people; however, there are many young adults with aphasia as well as people in middle-age and older. Speech-language pathologists are licensed, certified professionals who specialize in helping people with aphasia. Some examples of specific therapies include: Melodic Intonation Therapy, Constraint Induced Language Therapy, computer-based therapies such as Aphasia Scripts, as well as intensive comprehensive aphasia programs or ICAPs. At a TEDx conference in 2014, Dr. Julius Fridriksson proposed a model for aphasia treatment using an audiovisual technique. No single form of speech therapy has proven to be more effective than another for aphasia and most speech sessions are customized to a patient’s needs. The most current scientific literature indicates however, that the intensity of speech therapy is important to recovery. Many people with aphasia and their families also benefit from aphasia support groups.
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is a rare form of dementia. Unlike other types of aphasia in which communication can improve, language skills in PPA continue to decline over time. Speech therapy can assist patients maintain language skills with PPA for as long as possible. The National Institute of Health provides a list of dementia organizations, where you can learn more about PPA.
Researchers are exploring new ways to promote recovery from aphasia due to stroke. Non-invasive brain stimulation is a type of technology that scientists believe may enhance brain plasticity in people with aphasia when used in conjunction with speech therapy. Two forms of non-invasive brain stimulation that have been widely used in experiments for aphasia recovery include: transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS).
One famous public figure who is recovering with aphasia is former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Famous people who have had aphasia in the past include former President Dwight D. Eisenhower who suffered a stroke in 1957, and Oscar-winning cinematographer Sven Nykvist, who had primary progressive aphasia (PPA).
Speech-language pathologists who treat aphasia can be found through the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. Additional information about aphasia and aphasia treatments can also be obtained through the National Aphasia Association.
To observe a portion of an actual speech therapy session at the Burke Rehabilitation Hospital with a patient who has a fluent type of aphasia, use this link.
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