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Monday, November 30, 2009

JENNIFER HARDGROVE | Use 'F.A.S.T' to Recognize the Signs of a Stroke

Posted November 29, 2009 at 12:01 a.m.

What happens if you get a stroke?

A stroke happens when a blood clot blocks an artery that carries blood from the heart through the body. Brain cells die when there is interrupted blood flow to the brain. Stroke is also termed “brain attack.” When brain cells are impacted during a stroke, speech, movement and memory can be affected depending on where in the brain the stroke occurs and how much brain damage ensues.

According to the National Stroke Stroke Association, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Heart disease is the first and cancer is the second cause of mortality. However, stroke is the leading cause of disability and more than two thirds of stroke survivors suffer some type of disability.

Small strokes may only cause minor problems such as weakness of an arm or leg while larger strokes can cause paralysis or inability to speak.

About 87 percent of strokes are ischemic strokes; occurring when arteries are blocked by the gradual build-up of plaque and fatty deposits or a blood clot. Hemorrhagic strokes happen when a blood vessel in the brain breaks and blood leaks into the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes account for the remaining 13 percent, and more than 30 percent of all stroke deaths. Since 2 million brain cells die every minute during stroke, recognizing symptoms and getting medical attention immediately can be life-saving.

Symptoms of stroke include sudden onset of weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side, sudden confusion, trouble speaking, understanding, seeing, difficulty walking, severe headache without a known cause, dizziness and loss of balance or coordination.

F.A.S.T. is a method for recognizing and responding to stroke symptoms:

Face: Ask the person to smile and look for face droop on either side.

Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms and look to see if an arm drifts downward

Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence and listen for slurred or strange speech

Time: If any of these symptoms are observed, call 9-1-1 or bring the person to the nearest hospital.

Send your thoughts, questions and comments to

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

ECU works to get word out about aphasia

Enlarge Image
Sherri Winslow, left, clinical supervisor in the ECU Department of Communication Sciences in the College of Allied Health Sciences, distributes material during an aphasia awareness training session Monday at the Greenville Fire-Rescue Department. Aphasia is difficulty or loss in communication usually caused by stroke or brain injury. The program aims to introduce aphasia to emergency responders and how to improve communication interactions with people with aphasia. ECU provides the training by request.

Enlarge Image
ECU's speech language and hearing clinic is giving patients window and windshield decals to display so first responders will know someone has aphasia.

ECU News Services

Sunday, November 29, 2009

ECU has partnered with the Greenville Fire-Rescue Department to get the word out about aphasia, which is difficulty or loss in communication usually created by stroke or brain injury.

Sherri Winslow, clinical supervisor in the ECU Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, and Mary Beth Woody, a second- year graduate student, have been leading aphasia awareness training for emergency responders to make them cognizant of the acquired language disorder and how to improve communication interactions with people with aphasia.

The training has been so successful that there are plans to take it to rescue agencies across Pitt County.

On Monday morning, more than 15 city fire and rescue personnel gathered in a station conference room. Close to 140 will receive the training in three sessions, said L.R. Hines, battalion chief of safety and training for Greenville Fire-Rescue.

"The brain is very complex, so there are lots of ways aphasia can manifest itself in patients," Woody said.

Some people may be able to speak clearly, but have trouble understanding conversation. Others may comprehend everything, but may only be able to speak a few words. The disorder does not affect a person's intelligence, although it can affect reading and writing. About 40 percent of people with stroke, and about one-third of people who suffer severe head injuries, will get aphasia. North Carolina is in the nation's stroke "belt," and eastern North Carolina is the "buckle" with the highest rate of death due to stroke in the nation. An estimated 625 people in Pitt County, and about 37,000 in North Carolina, have been diagnosed with aphasia.

Emergency responders may come in contact with people suffering aphasia during emergency or service calls or vehicle stops. In general, Woody suggested that they look for halting or garbled speech, or someone who is groping for words or uses nonsensical words.

Emergency responders are most often interacting with people during a stressful time, whether someone has aphasia or not. Those with aphasia may become frustrated because of their inability to communicate easily and will need time to answer questions. She suggested making sure to have the person's attention before speaking to them, using a calm, unhurried voice, eliminating background noise as much as possible, and asking simple, direct, yes-and-no questions.

"We can't tell you what will work with every patient, every time," Woody said.

ECU's speech language and hearing clinic is providing aphasia patients identification cards and windshield and window decals to let emergency responders know about their condition.

Woody got the idea for doing local training after attending a North Carolina Speech-Language-Hearing Association meeting. She heard about a traffic stop in another state that resulted in someone with aphasia spending the night in jail because the officer mistakenly thought the man was intoxicated. Materials, including a quiz and video, were provided by the National Aphasia Association.

Hines said the training has been beneficial and is an important reminder to rescue personnel.

"It may be something other than what it first appears," Hines said.

For more information on the training, contact Winslow at 744-6142.

Professor's book looks at fundamentalists

Religious fundamentalists around the world sometimes create great mischief, according to Calvin Mercer, ECU religion professor, therapist and author of the work, "Slaves to Faith: A Therapist Looks Inside the Fundamentalist Mind."

"What I do in this book is explore the structure of fundamentalists' thinking and the emotional life that goes with it," he said.

Author or editor of four books, Mercer has expertise in biblical studies, and he has also been trained in and has practiced clinical psychology.

His book, published in May with a foreword by church history scholar Martin Marty, is a psychological analysis of fundamentalists.

"Unfortunately, traditional and moderate adherents of religion often get a bad name because of the misdeeds of fundamentalists," Mercer said. "I'm trying to help us understand the history and beliefs and, ultimately, the mind of fundamentalists who are outside of mainstream religion."

"Since the terrorist attacks of 9-11, there has been a great interest among scholars in understanding fundamentalism around the world," Mercer said.

"But little attention has been given to the psychology of fundamentalists."

Mercer's analysis draws upon the widely used model of cognitive therapy to suggest that the fundamentalist can be driven by anxiety.

"Fundamentalists' anxiety has serious implications for their well-being and explains their intense rejection of modernity and strong involvement in national political and cultural issues," Mercer said.

"My goal is to promote understanding and dialogue between religions and between the different theological camps within the religions," he said.

"It's not an easy task, but there's a lot at stake and we should do all we can to have religion be a positive, rather than a negative, force in our world."

Mercer earned his undergraduate degree at UNC-Chapel Hill in journalism and psychology, a master's degree in clinical psychology at ECU in 1997, and doctorate in religion at Florida State University. He also holds master's of divinity and master's of theology degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Mercer, who joined the ECU faculty in 1985, is director of the Multidisciplinary Studies Program at ECU.

For more information or to order "Slaves to Faith," visit the publisher's Web site:

Education on health benefits of nut urged

In a first-of-a-kind study, ECU nutrition researchers have uncovered a lack of understanding of the health benefits of peanuts and tree nuts among consumers. The researchers see opportunities for health professionals, government feeding programs, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and others to educate the public.

Published this month in Nutrition Research and Practice, Dr. Roman Pawlak and Dr. Sarah Colby, assistant professors of nutrition at ECU, and graduate student Julia Herring report that despite the many recent scientific studies showing that peanuts and tree nuts have protective effects against heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, metabolic syndrome, and obesity, no study to date has been published about individuals' perception of eating nuts.

So, they conclude, it is not clear how the recent studies have been translated by the public.

The researchers studied the perceptions of individuals of low socioeconomic status from a rural community, since this population is shown to have higher rates of mortality from health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, and may especially benefit from increased intake of nuts.

They surveyed 124 participants of the federal Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) supplemental feeding program in a rural North Carolina county about beliefs, benefits, barriers, attitude, intake, and knowledge of peanuts and tree nuts. They found in general that participants' beliefs about the health effects of nuts are inconsistent with the most recent research findings.

For example, only one-third of the participants believed that eating nuts may help lower cholesterol; only one-fourth believed that nuts can lower the risk of heart attack and diabetes; and more than one-third believed that eating nuts causes weight gain.

"In spite of almost two decades of research showing that nuts are important foods to include in a healthy diet, it appears that the general public may not be aware of the relationship between nuts and health," said Pawlak. "This study suggests that more education is needed on the health benefits of nuts."

The survey asked participants if they would eat nuts on most days of the week if their doctor recommended doing so; a majority responded "yes."

The researchers see this as an indication that physicians could be influential in communicating the health benefits of nuts to their patients.

Also adding nuts to a list of foods included on WIC vouchers could be a cost effective and simple way to improve the health of WIC clients, Pawlak said.

Upcoming events:

Dec. 3-5: The annual School of Art and Design holiday sale and exhibition, 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. Dec. 3 and 4, and 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. on Dec. 5, Wellington B. Gray Gallery. Call 328-6336 for more information.

See for times, places and more information on these events and other ECU upcoming activities.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gift boxes for sale this weekend

Thursday, November 26, 2009
Franklin Lakes - Oakland Suburban News

Members of the Adler Aphasia Center will be selling one-of-a-kind handmade gift boxes from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Nov. 28 and 29 in the parking lot at Market Basket, Franklin Lakes, weather permitting. Gift box designs include winter scene, Hanukkah, religious and Christmas. Prices range from $4-$7. Proceeds from the sale go back to the members to purchase supplies to make the boxes.

For more information, call Cynthia at 201-887-6707.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Men's and Woman's Aphasia Group

Tuesday: 8 AM - 9 AM, 10 PM - 11 PM - Men's Group
?? AM - ?? PM - Woman's Group

To Members Of The Aphasia Solution Network

The Men's and Woman's Aphasia Group

Men's Group - The Men's Aphasia Bootcamp
Woman's Group - The Woman's Aphasia Practice Club

To get onto The Men's and Woman's Aphasia Group:
email or phone call: William Connors, M.A., CCC-SLP :: Founder/Executive PH: 724-494-2534

Dorothy E Ross

The Men's and Woman's Aphasia GroupSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

This is Your Brain on Culture

How Stories, Poems, Plays, Movies and Other Arts Matter
Norman Holland specializes in the psychology of the arts. His latest book is Literature and the Brain, available at See full bio

So! Poets and their interpreters use different brain systems.
Poets vs. Critics: Different Brain Systems

The CriticYears ago, when I was teaching in the legendary English Department at SUNY/Buffalo, one of our poets, Jerry Maguire,convoked a group to read poems. Jerry's idea was to bring poets and critics together in order to compare their readings.

What happened surprised me, at least, and, I think, just about everybody in the group. It turned out that poets and critics read poems quite differently.

The critics concerned themselves with things like repetitions and contrasts of themes and meanings. The poets, however, paid attention to repetitions and contrasts of vowels and consonants, rhythmic patterns, and all kinds of features of the sound of the poems. To be sure, there was a certain amount of overlap, but nevertheless, the poets and the critics were reading poems quite differently.

Now, it turns out, they may have been using different systems in their brains. Kenneth Heilman, a neuropsychologist at the University of Florida, has a fine paper setting out the "information-processing approach" to the various aphasias. He lists eleven different aphasias, and his paper uses the kind of block diagrams computer programmers use to distinguish and interrelate them.

Heilman mentions eight interconnected blocks, some referring to well-known and clearly defined brain regions and systems, others to geography less certain. He mentions, obviously, the auditory cortex (Heschl's gyrus) that somehow--no one knows how--breaks the incoming sounds into phonemes. Then there is a "phonological input lexicon," corresponding to Wernicke's area, that "remembers" the sounds of various words. There is a motor system that makes the sounds of speech and "phonetic-speech movement programs," Broca's area. It embodies the programs for forming various words and other sounds. Both these systems rely on a "phonological output lexicon" that remembers what those words and other sounds are supposed to sound like. At a still higher level of processing, the brain's intentional systems (anterior cingulate and frontal lobes) create what Steven Pinker calls "mentalese" and stimulate speech production systems to turn those mental thoughts or proto-utterances into physical words and sentences. On the input site, there are object recognition units (ventral temporal occipital lobe) that associate words with perceptions of objects. At, so to speak, the highest level of the whole verbal system, there is a semantic-conceptual field that deals with meanings (probably widely dispersed in the parietal and temporal lobes.

Block diagram of speech systems

All these are interconnected, mostly by two-way conduction. Heilman shows, in this article, how one can account for eleven different aphasias by the loss of this or that unit or connection between these various units iindicated by the letters n the block diagram. It's a powerful demonstration of the kind of thing an information-processing model can do.

One particular thing this model can do is explain what happened in Jerry Maguire's poetry group. People interpreting poetry have to be more concerned with themes and meanings--obviously. That's what professors and critics are paid to do. People composing poetry have to be more concerned with the output side of things, and what is special about poetry are the sounds. In very simple terms, the poets were reading poetry primarily in terms of Broca's and Wernicke's areas. The critics were reading primarily in terms of that top-level semantic-conceptual field.

No doubt matters are more complicated than that. I always tend to over-simplify. Certainly both groups used all these systems but with different weightings. But I do find this solution to the problem Jerry Maguire's group posed immensely satisfying.

The item I'm referring to:

Heilman, Kenneth M. (2006). "Aphasia and the Diagram Makers Revisited: An Update of Information Processing Models." Journal of Clinical Neurology 2.3: 149-162.

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Tips to Maximize Stroke & Aphasia Recovery

By Paul E. Berger

I had a stroke from a ruptured aneurysm when I was 36. I was severely disabled, paralyzed on my right side (“hemiplegia”) and unable to talk, read, or write (“aphasia”). I had inpatient rehabilitation until my insurance ended.

Although I made great progress in the hospital, when I came home I could not walk, I could only say a few words, and I was struggling to regain my reading skills. I wanted to continue my recovery, and believed that I could get better. It was hard, but I did it. Here’s how you can do it too:

Tip # 1: Take responsibility for your recovery. Consider your doctors, therapists, and other health care professionals as partners or coaches who guide you in making decisions.

Tip # 2: Set treatment goals that are important to you. You and your family should work with your health care “coaches” to set goals that will motivate you to work hard on your recovery. [See my article, “Setting Goals to Recover from Stroke,” and my wife, Stephanie’s article, “Setting Goals for a Stroke Survivor: From the Caregiver's Perspective.”]

Tip # 3: Maximize inpatient therapy. Research in the field supports what I learned from my own experience: you should push for as much intensive rehabilitation and therapy as you can take every day, starting on the first day. It works! Also, maximize the use of new technology, devices, and equipment you can receive during your inpatient stay for diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment. Once you are discharged, insurance coverage rules are different.

Tip # 4: The end of insurance coverage does not mean the end of recovery. Physicians often prescribe the amount of therapy that is typically covered by insurance, and some therapists scale their treatment plans the same way. Generally, they do this because they believe that patients can’t pay for therapy not covered by insurance. Work with your therapists and physicians to develop and continually revise a treatment plan that targets your individual needs, not your insurance coverage.

Tip # 5: Before insurance ends, try to negotiate more. Since insurance companies, including Medicare, set general rules for coverage, find out exactly how many dollars or sessions your plan covers for each type of therapy. If you have a treatment plan that goes beyond their rules, urge your therapist or physician to call or fax on your behalf to extend coverage.

Tip # 6: Consider all forms of therapy and rehabilitative care for stroke recovery. This means speech, occupational, physical, respiratory, recreational, psychological, spiritual, and vocational. Consider alternatives like yoga and massage. The deep breathing I learned in yoga helped me in many ways, especially in giving public presentations.

Tip # 7: If your insurance doesn’t cover it, look for alternate funding sources. For example, certain programs have sliding fee scales based on need, including county recreational and educational resources. There are government-funded grants and resources for adaptive equipment. Vocational rehabilitation programs may cover certain types of therapy and skills retraining that are part of a plan to return to work. A college-based program may offer private and group sessions through a clinic that provides free or reduced-priced therapy. I believe that therapy is worth it, so I paid out of my own savings. To stretch my dollars, I hired a tutor from a high school tutoring service 3 days a week to drill the exercises that my speech therapist assigned.

Tip # 8: Do multiple activities every day. Stroke and aphasia recovery is the result of hard work every day. Going to therapy sessions is not enough. You need to extend what you learn in therapy and stimulate your brain and your body with a variety of activities every day. For example, every morning, before my shower, I do a series of stretching exercises recommended by my physical therapist. Most afternoons, I take a break from work and walk for 20 or 30 minutes. Sometimes, I combine my walk with grocery shopping or other chores, which build life skills. I challenge my brain by participating in networking groups, volunteer organizations, Toastmasters, group speech therapy, and hobby clubs. I push myself at work and at home to learn new things, to be creative, and to read and write everyday.

Tip # 9: Try new things. You should keep an open mind and a positive attitude toward your stroke recovery. Medical device and treatment innovators are focusing more and more on stroke, and any day something new could be just the thing for you. Over the years, I have tried many new products and activities. I have used various devices to support my weak right arm and leg, electrical stimulation on my weak right hand, and state-of-the-art equipment in my physical therapist’s office. I have participated in cognitive language research studies, and used computers and other speech therapy innovations. All of these things have contributed to my recovery, to achieving my goals, and to living a full life.

Tip #10: Get Involved. You can find new and different products, services, and approaches to stroke and aphasia recovery by getting involved in local programs. Ask to serve on consumer committees for your hospital or stroke association, or join with other stroke survivors and professionals to start your own group. I serve on the consumer advisory board of George Washington University Hospital, and the Stroke Comeback Center. If I can do it, you can do it too!


Copyright (c) Paul E. Berger & Stephanie Mensh
Permission is granted to reprint this article
in your newsletter or magazine only with the following byline
“Paul Berger is a speaker and author.
To find out more about his programs and services,
or call (703) 241-2375.”
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Localization within the cerebral cortex

This subject causes unnecessary difficulty. Work on neuronal networks, functional imaging and plasticity within the brain questions traditional views of highly specific localization of function. However, in practical neurology, it is necessary to understand the main functional roles of the cerebral cortex. The following paragraphs summarize areas of clinical importance.

The dominant hemisphere (usually left)

The concept of cerebral dominance arose with a simple observation. Right-handed stroke patients with acquired language disorders had destructive lesions within the left hemisphere. Almost all right-handed and 70% of left-handed people have language function in the left hemisphere.

Destructive lesions within the left fronto-temporo-parietal region cause various disorders of human communication:

* spoken language – aphasia, also called dysphasia
* writing – agraphia
* reading – acquired alexia.

Developmental dyslexia describes delayed and disorganized reading and writing ability in children with normal intelligence.


Aphasia is loss of or defective language from damage to the speech centres within the left hemisphere. Numerous varieties have been described.

Broca’s aphasia (expressive aphasia, anterior aphasia)

Damage in the left frontal lobe causes reduced speech fluency with comprehension relatively preserved. The patient makes great efforts to initiate language, which becomes reduced to a few disjointed words. There is failure to construct sentences. Patients who recover from this form of aphasia say they knew what they wanted to say, but ‘could not get the words out’.

Wernicke’s aphasia (receptive aphasia, posterior aphasia)

Left temporo-parietal damage leaves language that is fluent but the words themselves are incorrect. This varies from insertion of a few incorrect or nonexistent words into fluent speech to a profuse outpouring of jargon (that is, rubbish with wholly nonexistent words). Severe jargon aphasia may be bizarre – and confused with psychotic behaviour.

Patients who have recovered from Wernicke’s aphasia say that when aphasic they found speech, both their own and others’, like a wholly unintelligible foreign language. They could neither stop themselves, nor understand themselves and others.

Nominal aphasia (anomic aphasia or amnestic aphasia)

This means difficulty naming familiar objects. Naming difficulty is an early sign in all types of aphasia. A left posterior temporal/inferior parietal lesion causes a severe, isolated form.

Global aphasia (central aphasia)

This means the combination of the expressive problems of Broca’s aphasia and the loss of comprehension of Wernicke’s. The patient can neither speak nor understand language. It is due to widespread damage to speech areas and is the commonest aphasia after a severe left hemisphere infarct. Writing and reading are also affected.


Dysarthria simply means disordered articulation – slurred speech. Language is intact, cf. aphasia. Paralysis, slowing or incoordination of muscles of articulation or local discomfort causes various different patterns of dysarthria. Examples are the ‘gravelly’ speech of upper motor neurone lesions of lower cranial nerves, the jerky, ataxic speech of cerebellar lesions, the monotone of Parkinson’s disease, and speech in myasthenia that fatigues and dies away. Many aphasic patients are also somewhat dysarthric.

The non-dominant hemisphere

Disorders in right-handed patients with right hemisphere lesions are often difficult to recognize. They comprise abnormalities of perception of internal and external space. Examples are losing the way in familiar surroundings, failing to put on clothing correctly (dressing apraxia), or failure to draw simple shapes – constructional apraxia.
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Former Cornerstone University provost develops aphasia after blood vessel bursts in brain

By Nardy Baeza Bickel | The Grand Rapids Pr...

November 21, 2009, 4:35AM

GRAND RAPIDS — For 40 years, Bayard “By” Baylis has worked with words to develop curriculum for students and to help faculty teach better, most recently as the provost at Cornerstone University.

But after undergoing brain surgery earlier this year, words have been a bit tricky for Baylis: They behave like cats, not dogs, the educator said.

Bayard BaylisFormer Cornerstone University provost Bayard Baylis, shown here with his wife, Elaine Baylis, had a blood vessel burst in a brain tumor and developed aphasia, a disorder that impairs language skills.“Dogs come when you want them, but cats ... they come to you when they want to come to you, not when you call them,” said Baylis, trying to explain what it feels to live with mild aphasia, a communication disorder that limits a person’s usage and
understanding of language.

Learning how to pick through his brain to find the right words has not been easy for the 63-year-old, who until recently spent his days revamping Cornerstone’s curriculum and designing new strategies to improve student retention and enrollment at Christian institutions.

“He was a beloved provost because of his humble manner. Faculty and students could sense that he cared about them. He’s such a good listener,” said Alan Blanchard, who worked with Baylis in developing Cornerstone’s journalism program he directs.

“He really seems to genuinely care about people.”

Now, Baylis keeps a small notebook in his shirt pocket to make sure he will capture the ideas as they come to him. He also color-codes the ideas throughout his writings to make sure he does not leave any of them without proper explanation.

“That’s part of the insidiousness of the disease. There are times that I know I sound as if I’m making sense, but it’s not the sense I wanted to make. This week I’ve been (writing) an article about liberal arts and practical education, and I’m trying to understand the ancient Greek system. It’s just been a battle,” he said.

The experience has done nothing but strengthen his relationship with God, Baylis said.

“God is a god of miracles and not a god of convenience,” Baylis said. “The timing of the episode was a small miracle. If it had happened 15 minutes later, I would have been making 70 mph on I-96. And if it had happened a couple of months later, we would have been in Illinois, not knowing many people, not having doctors, not knowing the medical (community).”

“That in itself was a miracle,” agreed his wife, Elaine Baylis.

This spring, Baylis resigned as the second-in-command at Cornerstone to revamp the academic curriculum at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Ill., where he was to become dean and vice president of academic affairs.

He was in a meeting with faculty and staff at Cornerstone when he got the worst headache he ever has had.

His speech became slurred, he broke out in a cold sweat, and his face became ash-white.

Baylis has no recollection of what happened later: Of his friends calling 911, fearing he had suffered a stroke; of the ambulance ride to the hospital and of doctors finding, and removing, a non-cancerous tumor in his brain.

His wife, 63, was told to gather the family. If he made it out of the operating room, doctors told her, he never would be the same.

When Baylis woke up after surgery, his speech was altered, but he couldn’t tell the difference.

“It was so frustrating. There was a word that described the condition I wanted to describe and I couldn’t come up with it. I would have trouble following directions, oral or written,” Baylis said.

After months of physical, occupational and speech therapy, Baylis said, he is doing much better. Now retired, he had to pass up the job at Trinity.

He can follow a conversation without much help and already passed a test to regain his driver’s license.

But he still is easily exhausted and, once in a while, words elude him, he said.

Just recently, while attending a funeral service for a Cornerstone employee, Baylis said he had trouble recalling names of former colleagues.

“I knew what they did. I knew what they taught. I knew where their offices were, but I couldn’t come up with their names,” he said.

Still, he pushes forward. Baylis and his wife hope to move soon to Pennsylvania to be close to his family. They still spend most of the mornings, and some afternoons, talking with colleagues about the future of academia and what colleges should do to better to educate students.

E-mail Nardy Bickel:

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Monday, November 16, 2009

American Speech-Language Association Annual Convention

Start Time:
Wednesday, November 18, 2009 at 12:50am
End Time:
Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 3:50am
New Orleans, Louisiana
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Aphasia Fundraiser

By admin | Category: Announcements

aphasiaOn November 21 and 22 from 10:30am-2:30pm volunteers for the Adler Aphasia Center will be in front of the Market Basket promoting the center, bringing out awareness of what Aphasia is and also selling these beautiful little gift boxes that the members there make themselves - it’s one of the many wonderful activities for the members at the center and they take great pride in what they create - each one is a work of art and created by the members. They are perfect to fill with small gifts, gift cards, candy or money for the holidays. The can hang by the ribbons on a tree as well. They are really a great keepsake. Prices range from $4 - $7 (very very reasonably priced). The designs also vary but include winter scenes, Hanukkah, Christmas/Religious. They can also be custom made to order for pick up 2 weeks later and they offer, personalizations with photos that can be placed onto the boxes or made into puzzles and they also do ones for pets with a photo of your own pet and it can be filled with pet treats.

For more information or to purchase these one of a kind gift boxes, call (201) 887-6707 and ask for Cynthia or visit their website at
* This is a non-profit organization and all proceeds from the sales go to cover the costs of supplies to create the boxes *

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Sunday, November 15, 2009


We are proud and excited to announce two additions to our staff:

Pushpa Ramachandran, MA,CCC-SLP has been a speech language pathologist since 2002. She has a wide variety of interests and experiences that range from alternative and augmentative communication, pediatric speech and language issues, brain injury/ strokerehabilitation and swallowing disorders. Pushpa has worked in the public schools, autism clinics, home health, private practice, acute hospital setting as well as a core team member at a community stroke rehabilitation program. Her most recent accomplishment was the coordination and development of an unified Tracheostomy Weaning Protocol as well as starting staff training program regarding "Dysphagia in Tracheostomy patients" at the Good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, CA. She is an ASHA member and currently holds a practicing license in the State of California. At present she practices out of her home in Pune, India.

Pushpa began her training in aphasia rehabilitation in 2002 serving as a graduate clinician in the intensive treatment program at the Pittsburgh Aphasia Treatment Center when it was housed at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. She was one of the finest student clinicians in our 14 year history. Pushpa will be leading our distance clinic and SLP collaboration networking. Bill Connors, Director of PATREC

Janet Ross, MSW,RSW has served since 2004 on the faculty at Northern Lakes College and sessional instructor with University of Calgary since 2005. Her duties included instruction, administrative and knowledge of social work within distance education. Most of her clinical experience has been in Child Welfare, Family Violence and Addiction counseling. While she was the lead in Child Welfare in the area, she organized Family Group Conferencing, Student Health Initiative, Fetal Alcohol Effect Disorder, and Community Partnership Counsel. Janet began a contract position offering home studies with kinship care and adoption within Children Services. This contract also provided her with more specialized knowledge within Family Group Conferencing in Alberta. She is very interested in community issues and has worked within that area. Janet was the chairperson of the Bullying and Harassment conference at Slave Lake in 2005 and Outback Power Pack girl camp for four years. Janet has been instrumental in organizing a family violence program in Slave Lake, called Anger Ed and has presented on the topics of Family Group Conferencing to audiences internationally and Violence prevention in Alberta. Janet is able to provide suicide prevention workshops from the center of Suicide Prevention in Alberta.

Janet is one of then many success stories at PATREC. Through her hard work, she has overcome the effects of aphasia to be able to communicate effectively and efficiently in one-on-one and group situations. Recently she delivered a 15 minute speech from memory to a group of SLPs in ND USA and has facilitated small peer groups using videoconferencing with aphasia clients throughout the USA and Canada. Janet will serving as intake coordinator and peer tutor/advisor. BillConnors, Director of PATREC

These additions mean that we do not have a waiting list for new clients at this time.


Ø We have moved!! Our new main office is located at 800 Vinial Street, B-409, Pittsburgh, PA 15212. The phone number remains the same -- 724.494.2534 . The new office will house the regional aphasia clinic for PATREC. It will also allow us to again offer the intensive aphasia treatment program: one full week of on-site intensivetreatment with one full year of follow-up practice and support.

Ø Our newest software program: The Verbal Working Memory and Attention Training Program for Aphasia (VWMATFA) Our web-based Aphasia Sight Reader (ASR) dedicated software revolutionized the use technology for aphasia rehabilitation and now has over 300 stimuli lists. This means that the ASR provides unlimited amounts of practice, either coached or done independently by people with aphasia. It has become an Aphasia Practice in a PC for the dozens of SLPs who utilize the software or collaborate with us on client care eliminating the need for bulky picture or printed stimuli, makes data collection easy and ensures patient practice accountability. In our last newsletter, we showed how Dr. Roy Ivy of TX used the ASR to regain his reading ability several years after his stroke allowing him to reenter medical practice.

The VWMATFA software provides focused practice for the cognitive underpinnings for aphasia recovery including verbal and phonological working memory and sustained, focused, alternating and divided attention. These programs can be demoed and trialed by individual request only. Contact Bill Connors at or724.494.2534 .

Ø Group online sessions.

The Men's Aphasia Bootcamp- The Bootcamp has two sessions - an AM and PM. At this time there are two openings for new clients. Using, 4-5 men with aphasia work with and support each other once a week. Bill Connors and/or Pushpa Ramachandran facilitate the session.

The Woman's Aphasia Practice Club- The Woman's Club has one session in the AM. At this time there is one opening for new clients. Using, 4-5 women with aphasia work with and support each other once a week. Bill Connors and/or Pushpa Ramachandran facilitate the session.

SLP Innovative Treatment Roundtable- The Roundtable meets once a week. At this time there are no openings, however, a new session is being formed for SLPs who are interested in aphasia rehabilitation and should be up and running within two weeks. Bill Connors facilitates the session.

If you have any questions or want to register to participate in group sessions, contact Bill Connors at or 724.494.2534 .

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'More awareness about arterial blockages required'

AHMEDABAD: The First National Endovascular Workshop'was kicked off at Apollo Hospital on Saturday. Nearly 200 delegates from all over India are taking part in the two-day workshop which will impart live training in removal of blockages in arteries supplying blood to the brain, kidneys, intestines, legs and hands.

Nearly 10 live procedures will be performed under the guidance of international faculty-leading interventional cardiologist of France Dr Michele Henry and US-based Dr Krishna Rocha Singh. Director of cardiology department at Apollo, Dr Sameer Dani will be the course director.

Dr Dani said that while there is lot of awareness among the common people about blockages in the heart, it is lesser known that blockages occur in vessels supplying blood to other vital organs which can cause much morbidity and even prove fatal in many cases.

"People who have a heart disease with multiple blockages have a 20 to 25 per cent chance of developing blockages in other arteries as well. This is significant as younger people are getting heart attacks in our country due to blockages," he said.

According to Dr Dani, awareness needs to be created to detect and treat these peripheral blockages. "Unlike heart blockages where invasive angiography needs to be done, blockages in other arteries can be detected through a simple doppler ultrasound test," he added.

People need to be especially aware of blocks in carotid arteries which can cause a severely crippling or fatal brain stroke. PL Kumar, a scientist, was lucky as his block was diagnosed in time after he was investigated for blurring of vision and slurring of speech.

"The blockage was removed by stenting. It could have led to something fatal," said Kumar, 70. Dr Henry, who is considered a pioneer in offering non-surgical treatment to people having peripheral blockages, said that in 90 per cent of such blockages major surgery can be avoided by removing the blockages through stenting.
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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Gestures Processed in Brain's Language Center

SATURDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Words and gestures are processed in the same areas of the brain, a finding that may improve understanding of the evolution of language, researchers say.

In the study, MRI was used to monitor the brain activity of 20 volunteers as they watched video clips of a person either acting out gestures or voicing phrases that matched the gestures' meanings. Both the gestures and words triggered high levels of activity in the inferior frontal and posterior temporal areas, which are the language regions of the brain.

"If gesture and language were not processed by the same system, you'd have spoken language activating the inferior frontal and posterior temporal areas, and gestures activating other parts of the brain. But in fact we found virtual overlap," study senior author Dr. Allen Braun, of the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, said in a news release.

The finding, published online in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests that these brain regions could be the evolutionary starting point for language.

"Our results fit a longstanding theory which says that the common ancestor of humans and apes communicated through meaningful gestures and, over time, the brain regions that processed gestures became adapted for using words," Braun said. "If the theory is correct, our language areas may actually be the remnant of this ancient communication system, one that continues to process gesture as well as language in the human brain."

In addition, learning more about how the brain processes gestures and words may help treat aphasia, a disorder that impairs a person's ability to produce or understand language.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about aphasia.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, news release, Nov. 9, 2009

Copyright © 2009 ScoutNews, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Conquering Alexia

Practice + tools = aphasia and alexia overcome

Time. Success in aphasia rehabilitation is about therapeutic time on task. This newsletter is the second in a series about the critical value of lots of patient practice both outside the clinic and more importantly when formal treatment is finished. The best evidence for how important independent or coached practice is to success in aphasia rehabilitation is a true story of one individual persevering and overcoming the effects of stroke on his/her communication abilities. This is one such story.

Dr. Roy Ivy of El Paso, TX faced a dilemma. He fervently wanted to engage in his passion- practicing medicine and helping his patients, but, he could not. A stroke left him unable to read (acquired alexia) accurately and quickly enough to see patients. Months of speech/language therapy and personal effort had failed to help him accomplish his goal. He was informed that as more time elapsed his recovery would slow and that he would reach an untreatable plateau. True to his persistent nature, Dr. Ivy and his wife Charlotte, who likewise was unwavering in her determination to see Roy maximize his recovery, searched for an answer. They knew intuitively that with the right tools and guidance, Roy could read again. The search was on.

On February 6th, 2009 they found and the Aphasia Sight Reader Program. After an online consultation, the Ivy's and I created a plan, incorporating our Pure Alexia Treatment Protocol, AphasiaPhonics Program and extensive use of the Aphasia Sight Reader practice software. Charlotte trained to become Roy's practice coach. Taking advantage of neuroplasticity and a reconnectionist rehabilitation approach, we made the program highly individualized and multifaceted. See ( ; ) . Together, we consistently nurtured and grew the plan. Dr. Ivy spent 2-3 hours each day with therapeutic time on task, practicing, growing, and reconnecting neural pathways. We utilized the flexibility of the Aphasia Sight Reader program to make continual adjustments such as: reducing time the stimulus was exposed; using words that began, ended, or had in the middle the same letter; words of a similar category; manipulation of key word sentence placement and semantic content complexity; gradual expansion of number of words flashed; focus on cognitive skills of verbal working memory and attention training and learning from reading errors instead of experiencing frustration. See .

From the beginning, Dr. Ivy had acquired some bad habits and strategies that were inadvertently counterproductive. For example, following some ill-advised advice, he moved his entire head to read a short sentence. We switched Roy to a more normal brief scan of his eyes to sight read the sentence quickly. Dr. Ivy had assumed, given information provided to him, that he had right visual field loss. With lots of smart practice, however, his brain and eyes made adjustments and eventually he missed very few words at the end of a sentence. See . Finally, instead of continuing to utilize a letter-by-letter approach, he began to use more normal word attack and whole word/phrase sight-reading skills. See ;;jsessionid=5B39D82D1DB9E6A33ED5834A034355E2.tomcat1?fromPage=online&aid=49433.

Using the Aphasia Sight Reader's data collection capabilities, we found that at the onset of his program, he required 45 minutes to read a short paragraph [ 5 sentences; 68 words ] with 15 % comprehension and 10 % retention at 10 minutes; he read 3-word canonical sentences [ containing a Subject-Verb-Object ] at a rate of .3 words per second [ 18 words per minute ] with 45% comprehension.

After 3 months of independent, self-help practice, Dr. Ivy required 3 minutes to read a short paragraph [ 6 sentences; 70 words ] with 95 % comprehension and 75 % retention at 10 minutes; he read 3-word canonical sentences [ containing a Subject-Verb-Object ] at a rate of 1.5 words per second [ 72 words per minute ] with 90% comprehension. He began to read again - newspapers, novels and professional journals. Eventually, his reading and comprehension progress allowed him to return to seeing patients. He is able to read patient charts and other medical information.

A 75% decrease in time required to read a paragraph and an increase in words read per minute of 54 in just 3 months - these statistics reflect a remarkable accomplishment. I am so very proud of what this determined, yet humble man achieved. Dr. Ivy's story is just one of the many fantastic success stories that our clients and subscribers want to share with you. We know now that time since stroke and a person's age are irrelevant to a person's potential for improvement in speaking and reading skills. Our programs, materials and software tools are totally unique and available only to our subscribers at . For a personal demonstration of the power, versatility and effectiveness of the Aphasia Sight Reader, please contact me at 724.494.2534 or . We use and for our online consultations and treatment.

Bill Connors


Beeson, P., & Insalaco, D. (1998). Acquired alexia: Lessons from successful treatment. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society, 4, 621-635.

Francis, D. R., Clark, N., & Humphreys, G. W. (2003). The treatment of an auditory working memory deficit and the implications for sentence comprehension abilities in mild receptive aphasia. Aphasiology, 17, 723-750.

Mayer, J. F., & Murray, L. L. (2002). Approaches to the treatment of alexia in chronic aphasia. Aphasiology, 16, 727-744.

Orjada, S. & Beeson, P.M. (2005). Concurrent treatment for reading and spelling in aphasia . Aphasiology, 19. 341-351

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Practice Makes Perfect

Practice MakesPerfect; Perfect Practice Makes Normal.

The Importance of Therapeutic Time On Task.

Malcolm Gladwell, in his best selling book Outliers ( #5 New York Times) , debunks the idea that those who succeed and achieve expertise do so primarily because of talent and potential. He presents an undisputable case for the overwhelming importance of lots and lots of practice. He calls this the 10,000 hour rule. "In fact, researchers have settled on what they believe is the magic number for true expertise, ten thousand hours." Galdwell explains. That was the case for Bobby Fisher in chess, the Beatles in music, and even Bill gates in computing. We propose the same is true for aphasia rehabilitation. Lots and lots of practice using smart activities and innovative tools can help people with aphasia accomplish remarkable things. Recovering the ability to speak is even more important than becoming an expert chess player, musician or computer programmer. People with aphasia, who want to converse again, should be practicing lots and lots everyday.

All too often, the critical nature of independent and/or supported practice is not appreciated sufficiently in traditional aphasia treatment. For example, I reviewed an article in Seminars in Speech and Language ( vol 30, August, 2009 , pp. 174-186, ) that discussed treatment in bilingual speakers with aphasia. I highly recommend this excellent issue and in particular this fine article. In the article, Katherine Kohnert looked at 13 clinical treatment studies. Of these studies, only 3 (23%) were reported to mention patient practice outside of the clinical setting (#1: 3-5 hours for 6 weeks; #2: 70 minutes a day for 8 weeks; #3: 2 hours a day for 10 days). In the summary table in this article, patient practice was not even addressed by the author. The lack of attention to the importance of patient practice outside of the clinic is noteworthy and, given what we know about the need for hours and hours of practice, troublesome. A cursory examination of other aphasia treatment studies during preparation for this newsletter suggested a consistent laissez-faire clinical attitude toward patient practice in aphasia rehabilitation.

The need for plenty of patient practice has support from many points of view. Common sense tells us, "Practice makes perfect." Educators present clear positions on the need for time on task for effective learning. As Cathy Vetternott proposes in Rethinking Homework, 2009, "Teachers know that learning certain skills require practice to perfect, and often homework is used for practice." Reconnecting skills in aphasia rehabilitation likewise requires lots of practice.

The literature and research on intensive treatment programs for aphasia does demonstrate a strong support for progress supplied by hours of practice in the clinic setting ( ). How and how much the patient practices, both during formal treatment and when formal treatment ends, is of the utmost importance. Moreover, this practice needs to be done in a focused manner with smart work in a supportive practice culture. The clients we work with online at the Aphasia-Apraxia Treatment CyberClinic average 2:40 hours of practice everyday.

In our next newsletter we will present an amazing case study of what lots of therapeutic time on task (TTOP) using tools and activities can accomplish. We will see how the Aphasia Sight Reader at affordably provides, in a simple to use manner, unlimited stimuli and practice for speech pathologist, clients and caregivers. No aphasia practice should be without a tool such as this.

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Speaking out: A speech pathologist makes treatment fun

Monica Orbe/MEDILL

Speech pathologist Arnell Brady said he believes in making a better community through better communication, his specialty. He holds the Smart Palette that allows him to screen how children form the sounds of words and letters.

by Camille M. Doty and Monica Orbe
Nov 12, 2009

Speech pathologist Arnell Brady empowers children through speech therapy.

Speech and language pathologist Arnell A. Brady likes to make the job fun for him and his young clients.

From the time the children walk through his door in Hyde Park, they are ecstatic to work with Brady on correcting speech problems. They bounce through the door and run right to the room where their treatment involves computer games and even a high-tech gadget called an Interactive Metronome.

“Mr. Brady, I am done,” proclaims one high-pitched voice from one of the rooms that line the corridor of treatment areas.

Brady rushed over the see the “score” as little girl eagerly exclaimed, “I did better.”

“I see that, I see that,” Brady assured her as the exuberant face searched his face for acknowledgment. She struggles with a lisp and difficulties with expressive language, two treatable conditions Brady sees frequently.

Brady rewards children with playtime on the computers after they complete their treatment. The games coupled with Brady’s constant encouragement plays a big role in their desire to come back and overcome speech challenges.

Brady clearly values being personable and engaging with his clients. Kimberly Jackson said Brady has been important to her daughter’s development. She has “enjoyed watching her grow and watching her confidence level increase,” said Jackson, a Chicago native.

Jackson’s daughter has been seeing Brady five times a week since this summer. She switched from another speech pathologist to Brady because she lives in the neighborhood near his office.

The 38-year-old mother said that Brady really cares and “has a concern about your child elevating their communication skills.”

He is, “helping you shape your most important asset, which is your child,” she said. Jackson said she has noticed an added benefit since her child started treatment with Brady - a display of higher self-esteem.

“The only way a person can survive and thrive in their life is that they have to study and learn and then, when they have acquired those skills, they must take it back home,” he said.

He runs his practice with his son, Arnell A. Brady III. He initiates a session by doing an evaluation and assessment to determine each patient’s strengths and weaknesses. Then he selects a treatment plan to correct disorders. Speech pathology involves both the mind and the body, the father said.

He works on developing his patients' control of both with the use of devices, such as the Smart Palette and the Interactive Metronome. Smart Palette is a screening device that allows him to see computer models of how a child's tongue and mouth form sounds. This equipment helps Brady measure some speech pathologies that are innate as well as those that result from illness or injury.

He uses playful computer programs to mask the technical approaches to diagnosis and treatment. Children are excited about the testing methods, because evaluations can be stressful. The programs also help him discover the person’s speech pathology, gauge their progress or instill in them techniques to treat their pathology.

Arnell Brady III is his father's business manager and shares Brady Sr.'s commitment to helping children develop strong communication abilities. “I think that communication is a big part in this world, so I think that anytime that you can help an individual succeed or articulate their thoughts, I think you are helping the community,” he said.

His father is personally invested in the Hyde Park community because he was raised there. He graduated Morgan Park High School and attended Saint Xavier College. He earned his master’s degree from Northwestern University in speech and language pathology.

Brady gives back to the community beyond the job, serving as the President of the National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing.

People should, “enrich the area that they came from, otherwise they are doing nothing but surviving," Brady said.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lawyer says sexual assault victim was illegally barred from testifying

The MetroWest Daily News
Posted Nov 12, 2009 @ 12:12 AM

A Sudbury nursing home resident who claimed she was sexually assaulted by an aide early this year has been illegally blocked from testifying in next month's trial because of her disability, her lawyer said.

The 62-year-old woman, whom the Daily News is not identifying because the allegations involve a sexual assault, was improperly ruled incompetent to testify, said attorney Wendy Murphy.

Murphy filed an appeal on the woman's behalf with the state Supreme Judicial Court, challenging the ruling by Framingham District Court Judge Paul Healy Jr.

The woman suffered a stroke in 2001 and was living at Sudbury Pines Extended Care. She has a condition called "expressive aphasia," a disorder that makes it difficult to communicate through speech or writing but does not affect her mental capacities, Murphy said. The woman remains at the same facility.

"When a court rules that a fully competent person is unable to testify because she can't communicate, that's a problem," said Murphy. "A lot of people have disabilities that make it difficult to testify. To have someone shut the courtroom door, slam it shut, to a woman who is cognitively competent, is wrong."

In February, the woman claimed she was sexually assaulted by Kofi Agana, who worked as an aide at the nursing home. Through movements and pointing to areas of her body, she claimed Agana touched her breasts and genitals.

Agana, 47, of Fitchburg, was arrested and charged with two counts of indecent assault and battery on a disabled person older than 60 and one count of assault and battery on a disabled person older than 60.

At one point, Agana's lawyer, Robert Canty, asked Healy to determine whether the woman was mentally competent to take the stand. The judge assigned forensic psychologist Rosemary Klein to perform a competency exam.

"Dr. Klein concluded that (the woman) is mentally competent," Murphy said in her appeal to the SJC. "(The woman) was able to express to Dr. Klein that Kofi Agana committed a sexual offense against her as well as other relevant information that indicated her capacity to recall and relate life experiences reliably."

Healy then held a competency hearing in August, and required the woman to testify without the help of an interpretive assistant, Murphy said. After that hearing, Healy ruled the victim was not competent to testify.

Murphy said she believes the ruling is the same as if a judge ruled a deaf person could not use a sign language interpreter while testifying and is a violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

"We want to facilitate the ability of the disabled to have all their rights and the ability to testify," said Murphy. "It's not only a very serious issue with the victim in this one case, but victims in many cases. We would like to send a very different message about the vulnerabilities of disabled people."

Canty could not be reached for comment, but in his response to Murphy's filing, he argued that the nursing home resident has no legal standing to appeal the judge's ruling.

The Middlesex district attorney's office took no stand in the appeal, but noted in a letter to the court that it also believes the victim has no standing to file an appeal.

"I find that disturbing," said Murphy. "What in God's name is wrong with a legal system that even the prosecutor said the victim has no right of appeal, even when the judge makes a clearly wrong decision? Why is the prosecutor, the lawyer for the people, the ones who are supposed to protect those who can't protect themselves, taking this position?"

In a statement, Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone said prosecutors still plan on trying to convict Agana at a trial scheduled to begin Dec. 15 in Framingham District Court.

"We pursued and exhausted every legal, ethical recourse we had within the law and facts of this case, but ultimately are bound by the trial judge's findings on the issue of the victim's competency to testify in this matter," said Leone. "Despite the resulting serious trial challenges that we are faced with, given the trial judge's ruling, we remain ready to fully prosecute this case at trial on behalf of the victim and the commonwealth."

If the SJC does not rule on the appeal before Agana's trial, or if it rules against the appeal, Murphy said she will appeal the case federally.

Agana, who is from Ghana, is being held in federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody because authorities say he is in the country illegally.

(Norman Miller can be reached at 508-626-3823 or

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The Pittsburgh Aphasia Treatment, Research and Education Center

What does work in aphasia therapy?
NEW - We now have a free, informative Q&A- Question and Answer fact sheet for consumers and for speech-language pathologists. To receive a copy, contact us at or call 724.494.2534

In our last newsletter, we discussed why 1.25 millions residents of the USA and Canada continue to suffer the often devastating effects of aphasia. We presented 12 reasons why traditional approaches to aphasia therapy have failed to help so many people despite millions and millions of dollars spent on unsuccessful attempts.

We promised also to present specific information about what we have found truly does work. Here are 12 reasons why so many of our patients and clients have made real progress toward conversing, reading, writing, typing and talking again. By following these treatment principles , strategies and tactics, we are able to make each activity and practice session truly therapeutic and make patients eager to practice hours each day.

Twelve keys to productive and successful aphasia therapy:

1. We focus on you speaking and conversing again in a natural fashion. This means that the you are using your own ideas and thoughts when independently generating speech and conversation. We do not believe that using imitation, closure tasks, naming tasks, pointing, or being cued by another person leads to the propositional conversation that you and every person with aphasia wants.

2. We work on reconnecting brain pathways that you use for normal, conversation speech by taking advantage of brain plasticity. Instead of picture stimuli, we have you work from your own memory or thought, whenever possible, then work on what you want to say [ intent; speech acts] and organizing your words into sentences. We have found in our approach that years since your stroke and your age are not critical factors in your eventual aphasia recovery.

3. We challenge you. Your treatment program is not only highly individualized, but also nurtured and developed on an ongoing basis. We even create materials and treatment protocols specifically for you and your special needs and strengths. No busy work. We reduce caregiver stress in most cases by saving time, encouraging patient involvement and increasing patient time spent with self-help practice.

4. We strengthen your cognitive underpinnings so very critical to your speech. These include: verbal working memory; focused, selective and alternating attention skills; problem solving; mental resource allocation; and flexibility of thought. Success in aphasia recovery requires bolstering these.

5 We guide you to becoming your own speech therapist. We help you and your caregivers genuinely understand aphasia [ metaphasia ] and focus on building effective self-help strategies and tools. In the long, only you can speak for yourself.

6. We make treatment affordable. By combining self-help strategies; training of caregivers and practice assistance; use of the Aphasia Sight Reader program at , innovative tools, and the Interval Intensive Aphasia Treatment program, you can engage in this aphasia treatment at a fraction of the cost of traditional and intensive programs. We can do all this in your home using distance therapy online.

7. We use SMART treatment activities. We go beyond the clinical and research evidence utilizing knowledge from numerous sources including learning theory and cognitive neuroscience. We work at the sentence level whenever possible. We focus on verbs as they are the essence of a simple sentence. We avoid boring, tired drills.

8. We use all possible angles to reconnect neural pathways: reading; writing; prosody [ melody, intonation, rhythm, etc]; gestures; technology; cognitive skills while we keep our focus on improving your conversational ability.

9. If you have a more severe problem speaking, we deal effectively with the effects of apraxia using our Cognitive Restructuring for Apraxia Program and the effects of phonological aphasia [ difficulty finding or saying the correct speech sounds when you know the word in you head ] using our AphasiaPhonics Program.

10. We find ways for you to practice, and to want to practice, daily. Successful aphasia recovery takes time, persistence, and the use of smart treatment techniques and tools. We offer the exclusive Interval Intensive Aphasia Treatment Program that combines short burst of intensive treatment with lots of ongoing self practice using innovative tools and materials.

11. We collaborate with other speech-language pathologists or therapists you might be working with. Teamwork is essential as is referring you to the finest of resources available to maximize your recovery. You will feel connected to a network of patients, caregivers and professionals sharing a mission. You get to join a community of people aggressively traveling the pathway of aphasia recovery.

12. We never give up; neither should you. You get to work with a successful program that is innovative and dynamic knowing that we will never give up on you.

Interested? Contact us Bill Connors at or call him at 724.494.2534.

We are eager to hear your comments and to learn from divergent points of view. Please us know what you think at .

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Singalong the right prescription for patients

By MELANIE VERRAN - East And Bays Courier
Last updated 05:00 11/11/2009
CeleBRation Choir

THERAPEUTIC SINGALONG: Parkinsons sufferer Iris Matheson is finding the CeleBRation Choir is helping her to walk more confidently.

Relevant offers The CeleBRation Choir is not your average choir.

Set up in September by Auckland University's Centre for Brain Research, it uses music as therapy to help people with neurological conditions such as huntington's or motor neurone disease.

The weekly sessions at the Tamaki Campus in Glen Innes provide an opportunity for patients and their caregivers to get together and enjoy a sing-along.

Music therapist Alison Cooper says it is the first choir of its type in New Zealand.

"We were very inspired by the Sing for Joy choir in London. I heard them sing when I was in London in May."

She says there is growing evidence that music is beneficial to people's health.

"Music uses many parts of the brain so even if one part of the brain is
damaged through an accident or disease, it seems the brain can use other pathways."

When people start to sing songs they've known for a long time, it also triggers their memory and speech, she says.

St Heliers resident Iris Matheson was diagnosed with parkinsons disease two years ago.

She still works part-time supporting the elderly in their homes, but sometimes has difficulty walking.

Joining the choir has helped her in more ways than one.

"I feel I can walk more confidently than I did before," she says.

"The breathing exercises seem to strengthen your core muscles - when you do them repetitively and everyday. It's strengthening."

An avid singer, she says working the vocal chords seems to "oxygenate your blood" and makes you feel better.

"It's something a bit different. We all get stuck in a rut and it's good to do something different."

The caregiver of another choir member, who suffers primary progressive aphasia, has found he is talking more, both in session and at home.

"It's very positive," Ms Cooper says. "People are coming back every week so that suggests they're enjoying it. It's a social thing as much as the actual music side."

The choir will run each week until Christmas, alternating between Monday afternoons and Thursday evenings. The centre hopes to secure more funding to continue the programme next year.

Spaces are still available for new members.

For more information call Laura Fogg on 923-1913.

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