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Monday, September 27, 2010

Temple students create tools to help patients with balance issues

Monday, September 27, 2010

Since 2006, Temple’s Virtual Environment and Postural Orientation (VEPO) Laboratory has been helping patients with balance and spatial orientation issues find other ways to walk and stand upright using virtual reality.
About 6.2 million Americans suffer from chronic dizziness or imbalance, two major disorders related to the vestibular system, which controls balance and orients the body in space. Over the summer, students from across Temple had the opportunity to help some of these patients, by designing technological applications for use in the VEPO Lab.
Jeremy Norman, a kinesiology senior, was interested in extending the clinical application of GVS, or galvanic vestibular stimulation, which applies electrical stimulation to the vestibular system. Norman used a device worn by patients in the lab that sends a very low-voltage electric current from the back of the ear through the head and causes the patient to sway involuntarily.
“It hasn’t been used for treatment of balance before, but there could be applications that will help physical therapy patients by testing differences in the vestibular system versus visual cues and their effect on balance,” he said.
Jason Buranich, an electrical engineering senior, designed a pair of vibrating flip flops that can be worn in the “cave” - a virtual environment in which patients wear 3-D glasses and interact while standing on a shifting platform surrounded by three large screens. A harness supports patients in case of a fall.
“The idea behind this is to test how the differences between the vestibular system and feedback from the feet and legs affect balance, and what those differences are between older and younger people,” he said.
Greg Teodoro, who will begin the master’s program in Computer Information Sciences this spring, worked on the Avatar project. Existing software uses a computer-generated face, or avatar, to help aphasia patients practice language skills. Teodoro and other students modified the face, enabling it to reflect any age, race, or ethnicity. They are also working on a program that will enable the avatar to talk directly to patients, and hope that one day patients will be able to use it on their home computers.
The current standard of treatment for aphasia patients is role playing with a speech therapist, but “changing the race, age and ethnicity of the avatars will hopefully make the patient more comfortable and will give them a more realistic example of how to emulate the sounds and the way the mouth moves,” said Anicha Malloy, a recent speech-language-hearing graduate who worked on the Avatar project.
One of the most complex VEPO projects involved creating a 3-D replica of Temple’s campus for the cave. Standing on the moving platform, outfitted with 3-D glasses, the patient takes a virtual tour of Broad Street. He passes by the Pearson and McGonigle complex, turns down Pollett Walk, and ends inside the Baptist Temple. Recent architecture graduate Ray McClane, and Adam Gerbert, a Computer Information Sciences senior, worked on the project.
“Rather than practicing in a virtual environment designed to look like a room or a hallway, in this scene the patient encounters buildings on either side of them and cars coming down the street,” said VEPO Lab director Emily Keshner, chair of the Physical Therapy department in the College of Health Professions and Social Work. “It gives them a more complex, real-world practice scenario.”
Funding for the student projects came from the government stimulus grant, to further the efforts of Keshner’s initial parent grant from the National Institutes of Health, which is to study the use of virtual reality to examine balance issues in the elderly and stroke victims.
“Working with virtual reality requires computer programming skills, so we initially reached out to Justin Shi in (Temple’s) Department of Computer and Information Science to recruit students,” said Keshner. “The extra funding allowed us to reach out to other departments and recruit students from kinesiology, engineering, architecture and communication and speech sciences.”

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Brain injury robs patients of words

Aphasia strikes at communication skills, often after stroke

BY SUSAN JENKS • FLORIDA TODAY • September 21, 2010 
After heart surgery in 2004, Magda Zemelka suffered an unexpected stroke that wiped out her ability to speak all but a few words. She utters an occasional “thank you,” or a “yes” and “no,” and little else. But, she clearly understands what’s being said, an expressive intelligence lingers in her eyes and frequent smiles.
The 89-year-old former language teacher has aphasia, a medical condition that, in a particularly cruel irony in her case, impairs the expression and understanding of spoken language. Although not a disease, aphasia is a symptom of varying degrees of brain damage to the communication centers in the left side of the brain.
About 1 million Americans have aphasia, according to the National Aphasia Association, a patient advocacy group based in New York. Most of them, like Zemelka, develop the disorder after a stroke, but head trauma, brain infections, tumors and even some forms of dementia also can cause disruptions in these ordinary day-to-day communication skills, bringing tremendous isolation and loneliness in their wake.
“The social issues are devastating,” said Peter Zemelka, her son, who with his 90-year-old father, Stanley, provides 24-hour care for Magda in a small apartment overlooking the Banana River in Cape Canaveral. “Neighbors and friends simply stay away.”
While there’s no cure for aphasia, patients can achieve a “new normal,” however, through intensive speech-language therapy, according to Janet Whiteside, director of the University of Central Florida’s Communications Disorder Clinic. “There are few instances of full recovery,” she said, “but patients can learn new ways to communicate.”
The university recently opened an Aphasia House, dedicated to treating patients with this disability, but the Zemelka family said it’s too far for her to travel and Medicare and other insurers cap reimbursement, making it costly as well.
“The intensive program UCF offers seems successful, but it’s too demanding for us,” said Stanley, a retired economics professor, referring to the program’s face-to-face therapy, four hours a day, four days a week. Not only is the drive to Orlando too taxing for his wife, he said, he believes she needs therapy in German, not English, because that was her childhood language. 

http://www.floridatoday.com/article/20100921/LIFE01/100920024/Brain-injury-robs-patients-of-words
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Thursday, September 23, 2010

INTERNATIONAL APHASIA CENTER


THE FIRST SATURDAY APHASIA CLINIC
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2010
FROM 10 AM TO 2 PM
CLASSES WILL BE CONDUCTED BY OUR NEW SLP TEACHERS
FROM THE DEPT. OF EDUCATION (WESTERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY)
UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF OUR TWO NEW ADVANCED SLPS
FROM THE BURKE REHABILITATION INSTITUTE
COMPLIMENTARY LIGHT BREAKFAST AND LUNCH WILL BE PROVIDED
ALL IAM PROGRAMS ARE FREE TO ALL PARTICIPANTS
SAINT LUKES CHURCH WILL BE HOSTING ALL OF IAM'S SATURDAY APHASIA CLINICS
SAINT LUKES CHURCH
LAUGHLIN HALL
487 HUDSON STREET
NEW YORK, NY, 10014
(Between Christopher St. and Barrow St, directly opposite Grove St.)
DIRECTIONS CAN BE ACCESSED BY  CLICKING ON THIS WEB ADDRESS
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS CONTACT:
HARVEY ALTER AT (212) - 217-2610 OR BY EMAIL AT  aphasiamovement@aol.com
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Friday, September 10, 2010

INTERNATIONAL APHASIA CENTER

Dear Fellow Survivors and Co-Survivors,
 
It's time to re-enter the magical world of meeting together where you can leave your Aphasia at the door and join together in a place that is filled with you friends that share your beliefs that we can improve and get better.
 
We hope all of you had a great summer, filled with stories that you can share with the group.
 
You should have received the master schedule of all the groups the International Aphasia Movement is running, with time, directions and locations.   We have four Aphasia Groups that will be operating this year, with one group operating every Tuesday at ICD. where we begin the journey that 2010 - 2011 takes us on.   If you have not received the master schedule of groups, please email us at: aphasiamovement@aol.com or you may get a copy at any one of our meetings
 
The first meeting will take place at ICD. Beginning at 5 PM and ending at 7 PM. I hope that all of you will be able to make this meeting where we will introduce our new students and begin our work together,again
 
                                 GROUPS SCHEDULED FOR SEPTEMBER
 
ICD    Tuesday, September 14, 2010,  5 PM - 7 PM,    Meets in the Cafeteria on the second floor
 
Saint Luke's Church    Saturday, September 25.  10 AM - 2 PM  Meets in Laughlin Hall. Lunch and Coffee upon arrival are complimentary.
 
Beth Israel Medical Center,    Monday, September 27, 6 PM - 8 PM, Meets on the 6th Floor
 
ICD    Tuesday,  September 28,  5 PM - 7 PM, Meets in the Cafeteria
 
We look forward to meeting you again as we begin our Fall Aphasia Groups.
 
 Sincerely,
 
 Harvey Alter and Michael Young
 INTERNATIONAL APHASIA MOVEMENT
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Monday, September 6, 2010

The Odd Case of Phineas Gage

As we discussed in the previous Going Mental posts, some of the most fundamental mechanisms of the human brain remain a mystery to scientists. Consciousness, intelligence, and sleep are so fascinating largely because they require such complicated interactions among disparate brain areas to produce phenomena we take for granted as normal. But even more fascinating is when something goes wrong, when the brain doesn't function like it should. So this week at Big Think is dedicated to the engrossing—and occasionally lurid—world of abnormal psychology. And to kick things off, we're beginning with perhaps the most famous case in all of abnormal psych, the case of Phineas Gage.

On September 13, 1848, a young railroad foreman named Phineas P. Gage was setting a charge to clear a path for new train tracks. Normally a hole would be drilled into a rock, the hole would be partially filled with gunpowder, covered in sand, and then triggered using a fuse and a tamping iron. But on this fateful day, Gage mistakenly began tamping directly on the gunpowder before his assistant had a chance to cover it with sand. The resulting explosion propelled the iron rod (3 feet long and 1.25 inches in diameter) right through Gage's skull, but he miraculously survived and, after some months of convalescence, returned to work.

But as Harvard psychiatry professor John Ratey describes in his neuroscience primer "A User's Guide to the Brain," something was different about Gage after the accident: "Gage's temperament changed so drastically that he lost his job. He had been known as a remarkably responsible and even-tempered individual, but after the accident he was often compared to a wild animal with no moral sense. He cursed in front of women—unheard of in his day—and fought irresponsibly."
Until the advent of brain scans and magnetic resonance imaging, brain lesions studies like this were the only way scientists could study the functions of individual brain areas in humans. Twenty years after Gage's accident, physician John Harlow hypothesized that Gage's drastic behavioral changes were a result of the damage to his frontal lobe. There must be particular structures in the brain in charge of planning and executing socially-acceptable behaviors, Harlow suspected.
Two other early neurologists, Paul Broca and Carl Wernicke, also used brain lesion cases to predict structures in the brain that controlled certain behaviors. Based on a patient with brain damage who could only produce the single syllable "tan," Broca hypothesized in 1861 that the left inferior frontal gyrus was involved in language production. 150 years later, this area is still known as Broca's area, and patients with localized damage to this area suffer from Broca's aphasia. Their speech and reading comprehension may be completely intact, but their ability to speak or write is severely damaged. Broca and Wernicke Areas Several years after Broca's discovery, Wernicke described a language problem distinct from Broca's. His patient's problem had nothing to do with speech—he could produce words and could write with no effort—but the words he said or wrote were little more than gibberish. His speech and reading comprehension were highly impaired as well. Based on the patient's brain damage, Wernicke hypothesized that the left posterior superior temporal gyrus, now known as Wernicke's area, governed language comprehension.
In 1994, Hanna Damasio and a team of researchers returned to the Phineas Gage case. Using photos of Gage's skull and new computer technology, they recreated a three-dimensional image of his brain. And the areas most likely to have been damaged by the iron rod were in fact the left anterior prefrontal cortices and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex—areas we now know to be crucial to decision making, thanks to brain-imaging technology.
Takeaway
Aside from being inherently fascinating, abnormal psychology has been crucial to an understanding of how the normal brain works. It is unethical, of course, for scientists to induce injuries in parts of the brain in order to observe resulting behavioral changes.  But when injuries like Phineas Gage's happened by accident, scientists got their first glimpse into what behaviors were governed by which parts of the brain.
More Resources
"The Return of Phineas Gage," (1994) co-published by Hanna Damasio in the journal Science [PDF]
"Paul Broca's Historic Cases," (2007) a modern revisiting of Broca's lesion studies
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Sunday, September 5, 2010

INTERNATIONAL APHASIA MOVEMENT (IAM) SCHEDULE



ALL PROGRAMS ARE FREE OF CHARGE
SURVIVORS AND CO-SURVIVORS ARE WELCOME
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: HARVEY ALTER (212) 217-2610
IAM / ICD APHASIA PROGRAM
CENTER FOR SPEECH / LANGUAGE,LEARNING,and HEARING
340 East 24th Street, NYC, NY
Operates every Tuesday, all year long, from 5 PM - 7 PM
in the Cafeteria
IAM / BETH ISRAEL MEDICAL CENTER, APHASIA PROGRAM
DEPARTMENT OF NEUROLOGY
10 Union Square, South, NYC, NY
Meets from 6 PM to 8 PM 
Take Elevator to the  6th Floor
    
        Monday, September 27, 2010       Monday, February 14, 2010
        Monday, October 4, 2010          Monday, February 28, 2011
        Monday, October 18, 2010         Monday, March 14, 2011
        Monday, November 8, 2010         Monday, March 28, 2011
        Monday, November 22, 2010        Monday, April 11, 2011
        Monday, December 6, 2010         Monday, April, 25, 2011
        Monday, December 20, 2010        Monday, May 9, 2011
        Monday, January 3, 2011          Monday, May  23, 2011
        Monday, January 24, 2011         Monday, June 6, 2011
                                         Monday, June 20, 2011
                                      
IAM / SAINT LUKES CHURCH APHASIA PROGRAM
487 Hudson Street
Between Christopher St. and Barrow St.
Opposite Grove St. on the West Side of the Street
Meets from 10 AM to 2 PM, in Laughlin Hall
Complimentary Lunch is served
                                                                         
                                                       Saturday, September 25, 2010
                                                       Saturday, October 19, 2010
                                                       Saturday, November 6, 2010
                                                       Saurday,  January 15, 2011
                                                       Saturday  February 26, 2011
                                                       Saturday, March 19, 2011
                                                       Saturday, April 9, 2011
                                                       Saturday, May 21, 2011
                                                       Saturday, June 18, 2011
IAM / MARYMOUNT COLLEGE APHASIA PROGRAM
Department of Communication and Sciences and Disorders
221 East 71 Street, NYC, NY
Meets from 10 am to 2 PM
Complimentary Lunch is served
(Prior registration required)
                                                 
                                                        FALL SEMESTER 
                                                        Saturday, October 2, 2010
                                                        Saturday, October 30, 2010
                                                        Saturday  November 13, 2010
                                                        Saturday, December, 4, 2010
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Walking to Stop Apraxia of Speech


Written by Audrey Castoreno   
Walking for a good cause. Parents and children were at Riverside Park today doing just that and hoping to raise more awareness for children in the community who are living with communication disorders.

They can run and play just like any other child. The only difference is children with speech impairments like Apraxia have a little more trouble getting their words out.

Much like Willisha Rudd's daughter Shayla.

"This is my first time participating in the walk and....were here to support Apraxia because she has some forms of it so anything we can do to help out the community to bring awareness to help other parents and help the community to know what's going on," Willisha Rudd said.

The walk alone raised $6,000 dollars to donate to CASANA or the Childhood Apraxia of Speech Association of North America. Families and kids walked, enjoyed crafts, a bounce house, face painting and were also able to come together with other families in the community who have children who suffer from speech impairment.

"We just think its very important for people to realize that these children are in our area. That we need to understand them and understand that they have difficulty communicating, but that they are wonderful and they need our support," GCSHA President, Meredith Potts said.

Potts also says Apraxia is showing up more in children, and 60% of children with autism have been found to have this motor planning speech disorder. So events like the walk are key to raise awareness and funds for research.

"While it's not the most common its on the rise and we need to be able to recognize and understand and treat it appropriately," said Potts.

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