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Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bridging aphasia-based language gaps

ECU offers free support group

Staff Writer

Nestled on the fourth floor of the East Carolina University Health Sciences Building is a room where those suffering from aphasia have found a safe haven.

"(Aphasia's) an impairment of language, the ability to use and comprehend words, Sherri Winslow, clinical supervisor for the ECU's Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, said. "It includes talking, listening, understanding, reading, writing and numbers - all of those things relate to language."

East Carolina University's Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders began hosting free aphasia support groups during March.

"One of the main purposes (of the group) is getting people together because some of those with aphasia may tend not to try to attempt to communicate out in public or with other people," Sherri Winslow, clinical supervisor for the department, said. "It's a comfortable place for those making attempts to communicate."

Half of the meeting is designated for attendees to practice communication with graduate students.

"The students think of activities to lead the group in practicing expressive and listening comprehension skills," Winslow said.

During each meeting individuals also participate in discussions on relevant topics and receive presentations about maintaining a healthy lifestyle after stroke.

Family members of those with aphasia are also encouraged to attend the support group.

"They could see different techniques that the students are using to help elicit the language," Winslow said. "Especially if some of them don't get to come to therapy sessions with the person. They get to see how to encourage and motivate the language skills."

Sarah Campbell can be reached at (252) 559-1076 or at

Upcoming meetings

June 17, July 1, July 15 and July 29

All meetings held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Room 4415 in the Health Sciences Building on West Fifth Street in Greenville. For more information about the aphasia support group call Sherri Winslow at (252) 744-6142.

Did you know?

Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that impairs an individual's ability to use language.

Although a person with aphasia can have difficulty retrieving words and names, memory of situations, appointments, people and general knowledge remain relatively intact. The ability to access ideas and thoughts via language is disrupted.

It has been estimated that one million Americans or 1 in 250 people have acquired aphasia. About 2/3 of these are the result of strokes and 1/3 are head injured persons.

Source: National Aphasia Association

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