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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Research Project Aphasia Therapy

Research Project

    Aphasia Therapy

Looking for Participants:


Aphasia for 6 months

English speaking

Right handed

Medically Stable

You will be paid some $

Practice Word-Finding

Participation will include:

  1. Completing language assessments.
    1. 3 sessions before treatment begins (2-3 hours each)
    2. 3 sessions during the treatment period (1-2 hours each)
    3. 2 sessions immediately after treatment ends(2-3 hours each)
    4. 2 sessions approximately 6 weeks after treatment ends (1-2 hours each)
  2. Participating in group treatment 2 times/week for 7 weeks (1-2 hours/session)
  3. Completing assigned homework and log activities


Carolyn Falconer- Horne, M.S. CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist and NYU Doctoral Student

(212) 998-5230;

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The National Aphasia Association's Summer Newsletter

The National Aphasia Association
Summer Newsletter
June-August 2009


We hope that your summer has been as exciting as the NAA's! We have been so busy that we had to flag down a neighborhood ice cream truck to help us bring you our delicious Summer Newsletter.

Inside you will find out how the NAA and others celebrated National Aphasia Awareness Month in June, view pictures from our successful Benefit Performance of Night Sky, read about our two Groups of the Summer and SO MUCH MORE!

We hope that you will particularly pay attention to the information about the upcoming "Speaking Out! @ The Midwest Conference," which will be held in October. You may also visit for more information.

To begin reading it before it melts, click here or paste into your web browser.

Have a great summer!

Ellayne Ganzfried, Executive Director
Amy Coble, Info/Admin Coordinator

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Actions machines

by Dorothy E Ross PhD CCC-SLP
Actions machinesSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Feeling Bad

Vocabulary angry, sad, afraid

by Dorothy E Ross PhD CCC-SLP
Feeling BadSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ten Tips for Communicating When Your Spouse Has Aphasia A Caregiver's Perspective

By Stephanie Mensh, Stroke Caregiving Expert

My husband, Paul Berger, has aphasia, a speech-language disability that makes reading, writing, and speaking difficult. Paul's aphasia was caused by a stroke when he was 36. We had been married for four years. The first few weeks following Paul's stroke, he had lost all of his language abilities.

While he was still in the intensive care unit, Paul tried to communicate with me. He held up his left hand (his right side was paralyzed), and turned it one way, then the other. For what seemed like hours, I guessed and guessed at what he was trying to tell me. Did he want the nurses to stop something? Did he want to pray? Was there something wrong with his hand?

Finally, I guessed that he wanted his fingernails trimmed. I couldn't believe him. After going through brain surgery on his ruptured aneurysm and looking like he was hit by a truck, then suffering a terrible stroke, being too weak to sit up, having pneumonia (the list of his medical problems went on and on): he wanted a manicure! That's when I realized that I would need help to learn to communicate with Paul.

Here are the top 10 tips I learned to help me communicate with my husband after his stroke.

Top 10 Tips from the Professionals

Stephanie's Top 10 Tips

1. Be patient.

1. Okay. Nobody is perfect. I'm a Type A.

2. Speak in a normal tone of voice.

2. Yell. He's my husband. I yelled at him before his stroke.

3. Speak slowly. Use simple words and short sentences.

3. Four-letter words are easy to yell slowly.

4. Limit background noise or distractions. Turn off the TV or radio.

4. Why does he only want to talk during my show?

5. Develop non-verbal strategies, including gestures, pointing to things, using picture cards, or drawing in a pocket notebook.

5. I can read Paul's mind, and we always win at charades. The trick is first to understand what topic we're discussing.

6. Making the first sound of the word can help the person with aphasia to say the whole word or phrase.

6. We created cues for each letter of the alphabet. When I see Paul making the cue, like pointing to his nose for N, I'll help with the sound if he can't get it.

7. Aphasia can result in switching words that are close in meaning or sound, like restaurant-refrigerator, or opposites, like yes-no, hot-cold.

7. I've learned to write down numbers, since Paul often switches five-fifteen-fifty or hundred-thousand. We live in the Washington, DC suburbs, so we hear a lot of people switching million-billion-trillion.

8. Aphasia impairs language, not intelligence. Respect the survivor's intelligence by involving him in decision-making, and by including him in discussions of current events.

8. Okay. Like most couples, we have our disagreements. I can yell louder, but Paul can do the "silent treatment" better.

9. People with aphasia must make as much effort to concentrate when they listen as when they form words to speak.

9. Be careful what you say. Paul can be extraordinarily fluent repeating a secret to the wrong person.

10. Having a sense of humor and laughing is important. However, people with aphasia have an easier time understanding concrete words and actions, instead of jokes based on slang, puns, clever plays on words, and abstract words.

10. Paul can enjoy most comics - words and pictures. But he laughs loudest at slapstick. We both laugh at some of his aphasia-induced word switches and misunderstandings (when I explain them to him).


Copyright (c) Paul E. Berger & Stephanie Mensh
Permission is granted to reprint this article
in your newsletter or magazine only with the following byline:
"Stephanie Mensh is a speaker and author.
To find out more about her programs and services,
or call (703) 241-2375."
Ten Tips for Communicating When Your Spouse Has Aphasia A Caregiver's PerspectiveSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cured by birdsong: Remarkable new therapy taught Nick to talk again after a massive stroke

By Diana Appleyard
Last updated at 11:49 PM on 20th July 2009

Nick Brittain was travelling home from work when he suffered a heart attack. The former chief accountant at Barclays International Bank then suffered a stroke in hospital and was told he was unlikely to speak again.

But thanks to a new technique, he has defied doctors' expectations. Here Nick, 69, who lives with his wife Patricia, 70, near Godalming, Surrey, tells DIANA APPLEYARD his story.

Nick Brittain: Refused to accept the doctor's diagnosis

Nick Brittain: Refused to accept the doctor's diagnosis

As I lay in hospital, the nurses and doctors moved around my bed chatting to each other and I felt an overwhelming sense of fear and confusion. They seemed to be talking in an extraordinary language, and I could not understand a thing.

When I opened my mouth to speak, I found the same thing was happening to me: I was speaking in a bizarre foreign tongue. It was the most appalling realisation.

My memory hadn't been affected, and I knew why I was in hospital. I'd been at Waterloo Station, on my way home from work, when I suddenly felt a dreadful pain across my chest. The manager above the platform saw what was happening and, thank goodness, called an ambulance.

I couldn't speak, and the paramedic who raced down the platform immediately gave me aspirin - to thin my blood and prevent a blood clot - and also gave me oxygen, quite possibly saving my life.

I was taken to accident and emergency at St Thomas' Hospital, where I was told I'd had a heart attack and underwent an emergency bypass. Two days later, I had a stroke - a blood clot travelled up from my heart into my brain.

The stroke killed off some of the brain cells in the left side of my brain - the side dealing with language, reading and writing. This was why language suddenly became unintelligible to me. My wife Pat was told so many nerve cells had been damaged, the likelihood was I would never speak.

Of course, I was unaware of this as I lay in my bed, my brain in a whirl. I only managed to pick up a few words from the doctor, such as 'speak' and 'again' but, from the look on his and my wife's face, I knew exactly what he had said.

A surge of determination rose inside me - I was going to prove him wrong. I was filled with resolution. I knew my brain and memory were working - I just couldn't speak intelligibly. Bizarrely, it was nouns I completely lost.

I spent about five weeks in hospital, and began having speech therapy. We use only ten per cent of our brain's capacity, so I deduced that it must be possible to re-educate the brain to learn language.

I got hold of a dictionary and began writing out lists of words. I knew the words in my head, but I could not articulate them myself or understand them when other people were saying them to me.

The best way I can describe it is that it was like being a baby and learning to talk all over again - listening to the sounds of words and associating them with either the word on the page, the actual object, the way a person's mouth moved or the sound.

I was suffering from aphasia - a difficulty with language which is caused primarily by strokes. Having aphasia is like being trapped in a foreign land, and you can understand why so many stroke victims withdraw into themselves. But I was determined - I am not the sort of person to give in.

When I got home, I made stickers of words such as door, table, light, and stuck them on the objects. I also wrote down hundreds of other words and stuck them on the walls, so I was constantly looking at them. I would work on them for ten hours a day.

At the time of my stroke, I was only months from my retirement, so my career was not affected. But even then, in the early days, I had no intention of sitting at home.

Pat was extremely supportive, and slowly I began to build up a basic vocabulary and make sounds that she could understand. I watched myself in the mirror as I spoke, watching my lips and tongue.

I dug out the reading books my children used when they were two or three, such as Janet And John, and developed my own system of word association.

Still, I was struggling to organise my brain to retain all these new words I was learning, and I had difficulty understanding any conversation involving more than one person.

Birdsong cure: Nick learnt how to talk again using a new therapy called Samonas, which stimulates the ability to recall language using natural sounds

Birdsong cure: Nick learnt how to talk again using a new therapy called Samonas, which stimulates the ability to recall language using natural sounds

I had 150 speech therapy lessons, but to me the major breakthrough was when a friend told me about a mobility, speech and language expert called Judy Sommer.

Judy uses a German system called Samonas, which uses music and the sounds of nature such as the sea, apparently to stimulate the nerve cells in the brain, enabling you to think calmly and clearly.

Samonas was developed in 1991 by a sound engineer and scientist, Ingo Steinbach. Using brain scans, he discovered that listening to classical music caused intense electrical activity in the brain, stimulating the ability to recall language. The same reaction occurred using natural sounds such as birdsong and crashing waves.

Monitoring patients, he found that not only was there intense activity in the brain, but that patients also became much more relaxed, yet alert and focused.

In half-hour sessions with Judy, I would sit and listen to a set of CDs, containing a range of sounds from classical music to birdsong. I found that when I had been listening to the CDs, I could both hear and form words much more distinctly and with more ease - it was as if the CDs were 're-training' my brain to understand language.

I worked with Judy for about a year, having several sessions a week, and it made the most remarkable difference.

Today, nine years on from the stroke, people meeting me for the first time have no idea that I lost my ability to communicate. I can cope in public situations such as parties, but I do have to concentrate quite hard when a lot of people are talking. I don't understand every word, and every day I read the dictionary obsessively.

Place names can be hard for me, and people's names. But since my stroke I have been a director of London First, a business membership organisation, and I work with a charity for the homeless in London's East End, so I am very busy and active.

I also work closely with the charity Speakability UK, which helps people who have aphasia.

I hope other people will draw encouragement from my story. It was quite hard and took a great deal of perseverance, but I was determined not to accept the doctor's prognosis that I would never talk again. And I have proved that if you have the willpower and the support, you can make it happen.

My consultant says he is amazed at my recovery and the way I have re-trained my brain. But I haven't stopped there: I am now teaching myself to speak French, which I used to be able to speak quite fluently. For more information on aphasia, contact

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Actions Dog

Action words with dogs

by Dorothy E Ross PhD CCC-SLP
Actions DogSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, July 20, 2009

Feeling Good

Words for feelings - happy, love

by Dorothy E Ross PhD CCC-SLP
Feeling GoodSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, July 17, 2009

Thursday, July 16, 2009

NHMRC funding for UQ brain injury research

University of Queensland researchers will use a $2.5 million grant to help people who have suffered an acquired brain injury communicate with the world.

The recent National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) funding will establish a new Centre for Clinical Research Excellence (CCRE) in Aphasia Rehabilitation at UQ, led by Professor Linda Worrall.

Aphasia is the loss of communication following a stroke or traumatic brain injury. People with these communication difficulties struggle to find the words to express themselves, and may have difficulties in understanding what others say, as well as difficulties with reading and writing.

The CCRE will unite two complementary, but independent, approaches in aphasia rehabilitation into a single combined approach that will optimise treatment outcomes.

The centre aims to do this through the development of an Australian Aphasia Rehabilitation Pathway, working in close collaboration with speech pathologists and consumers.

UQ researchers, Professor Worrall and Dr Bronwyn Davidson of the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, will collaborate with Dr David Copland of the UQ Centre for Clinical Research and peers from the Universities of Sydney, Newcastle, Macquarie, La Trobe, Florida, Edith Cowan and Southeastern Louisiana.

The centre will also be recruiting a number of postdoctoral fellows and PhD investigators over the next five-year period in order to increase research capacity in this area.

Professor Worrall said the new centre provided a watershed moment in aphasia research.

“This national research centre brings together for the first time, in Australia and internationally, researchers with specialist expertise in the two main approaches known to make a significant impact on recovery and rehabilitation,” she said.

“There is growing evidence that well-designed and focused communication activities result in significant changes in the brain and its ability to recover from injury, and that the capacity to improve continues long after the time of damage.

“However, we also know that speech pathology services to people with acquired language impairment are very stretched.

“For these reasons, it is imperative that the research evidence is applied in order to maximise the opportunities for effective rehabilitation in the everyday provision of services both while the person is in hospital and when they return home.”

UQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Max Lu congratulated Professor Worrall and the team on receiving a substantial grant which has the potential to improve the quality of life of people with aphasia and their families.

“Like many other UQ researchers, this team will focus on the efficient translation of research evidence into clinical practice that has measurable benefits for patients and people with disabilities,” Professor Lu said.

The “cell to society” research program will integrate the perspective of people with aphasia, working closely with the Australian Aphasia Association (
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Aphasia NYC Blogger: Do Bilingual Persons Have Distinct Language Areas in the Brain?

Aphasia NYC Blogger: Do Bilingual Persons Have Distinct Language Areas in the Brain?

Brain damage and selective aphasia

By Guru

Mo at Neurophilosophy points to an interesting paper (which reads like a case study from Oliver Sack’s book):

After the rehabilitation period, a series of linguistic tests was administered to determine the extent of his speech deficits. M.H. exhibited deficits in both languages, but the most severe deficits were seen only in Hebrew. In this language he had a severe difficulty in recalling words and names, so that his speech was non-fluent and interrupted by frequent pauses. He had difficulty understanding others’ spoken Hebrew, and also had great difficulty reading and writing Hebrew. In Arabic, his native language, all of these abilities were affected only mildy. Differences were also seen in the effects of intensive language therapy. Although the therapy led to improvements in both languages, the improvements in Arabic were seen in all linguistic abilities; in Hebrew, by contrast, there was only mild improvement in his spontaneous speech and comprehension, and his ability to name objects remained unchanged.Similarly, his ability to read and write Arabic, but not Hebrew, improved significantly.

Take a look!

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Life. Support. Music.

Episode: Life. Support. Music.

In 2004, Jason Crigler's life was taking off. He was one of New York's hottest guitarists, and his wife was pregnant with their first child. Then Jason suffered a near-fatal brain hemorrhage onstage, and his doctors doubted he would recover. The journey that followed, documented by friend and filmmaker Eric Daniel Metzgar is a portrait of one family's struggle in the face of overwhelming tragedy.
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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Do Bilingual Persons Have Distinct Language Areas in the Brain?

Released: Wed 08-Jul-2009, 09:00 ET


A new study carried out at the University of Haifa sheds light on how first and second languages are represented in the brain of a bilingual person. A unique single case study that was tested by Dr. Raphiq Ibrahim of the Department of Learning Disabilities and published in the Behavioral and Brain Functions journal, showed that first and second languages are represented in different places in the brain.

Newswise — A new study at the University of Haifa sheds light on the mechanisms of language acquisition:

Do bilingual persons have distinct language areas in the brain?

A new study carried out at the University of Haifa sheds light on how first and second languages are represented in the brain of a bilingual person. A unique single case study that was tested by Dr. Raphiq Ibrahim of the Department of Learning Disabilities and published in the Behavioral and Brain Functions journal, showed that first and second languages are represented in different places in the brain.

The question of how different languages are represented in the human brain is still unclear and, moreover, it is not certain how languages of different and similar linguistic structures are represented. Many studies have found evidence that all the languages that we acquire in the course of our life are represented in one area of the brain. However, other studies have found evidence that a second language is dissociated from the representation of a mother tongue.

According to Dr. Ibrahim, there are various ways of clarifying this question, but the best way to examine the brain's representation of two languages is by assessing the effects of brain damage on a mother tongue and on the second language of the bilingual individual. "The examination of such cases carries much significance, since it is rare that we can find people who fluently speak two languages and who have sustained brain damage that has selectively affected one of the languages. Moreover, most of the evidence in this field is derived from clinical observations of brain damage in English- and Indo-European-speaking patients, and few studies have been carried out on individuals who speak other languages, especially Semitic languages such as Hebrew and Arabic, until the present study," he added.

The present case examined a 41-year-old bilingual patient whose mother tongue is Arabic and who had fluent command of Hebrew as a second language, at a level close to that of his mother tongue. The individual is a university graduate who passed entrance exams in Hebrew and used the language frequently in his professional life. He suffered damage to the brain that was expressed in a language disorder (aphasia) that remained after completing a course of rehabilitation. During rehabilitation, a higher level of improvement in use of the Arabic language was recorded, and less for the use of Hebrew. After rehabilitation, the patient's language skills were put through various standardized tests that examined a range of levels language skills in the two languages, alongside other cognitive tests. Most of the tests revealed that damage to the patient's Hebrew skills were significantly more severe than the damage to his Arabic skills.

According to Dr. Ibrahim, even if this selective impairment of the patient's linguistic capabilities does not constitute sufficient evidence to develop a structural model to represent languages in the brain, this case does constitute an important step in this direction, particularly considering that it deals with unique languages that have not yet been studied and which are phonetically, morphologically and syntactically similar.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Friends promote debut novel of writer who has post-stroke aphasia

Greg sez, "Albert Borris' debut novel, a YA book called Crash Into Me, comes out today... but back in December, Albert suffered a massive stroke that left him unable to get words out on paper or verbally in the proper order. He's a writer unable to write... and currently unable to help promote his own book. Fellow young adult and middle grade debut authors in the Class of 2K9 of which Albert had been co-president, are working together along with others to help spread the word so that Albert's novel gets the attention it deserves... and which he is unable to help generate."
When Owen, Frank, Audrey, and Jin-Ae meet online after each attempts suicide and fails, the four teens mak e a deadly pact: they will escape together on a summer road trip to visit the sites of celebrity suicides...and at their final destination, they will all end their lives. As they drive cross-country, bonding over their dark impulses, sharing their deepest secrets and desires, living it up, hooking up, and becoming true friends, each must decide whether life is worth living--or if there's no turning back.
Crash Into Me

Press Release -- Albert Borris, Crash Into Me

Albert Borris

(Thanks, Greg!)

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009