LINGUIST List 15.1798

Sat Jun 12 2004

FYI: June is National Aphasia Awareness Month

Editor for this issue: Sarah Murray <sarahlinguistlist.org>


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  1. Postman, Whitney (NIH/NIDCD), June is National Aphasia Awareness Month

Message 1: June is National Aphasia Awareness Month

Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2004 23:47:37 -0400
From: Postman, Whitney (NIH/NIDCD) <postmanwnidcd.nih.gov>
Subject: June is National Aphasia Awareness Month


In honor of June as National Aphasia Awareness Month, I am posting a
press release from the National Aphasia Association. Those interested
in learning more about aphasia, aphasia recovery and rehabilitation
are encouraged to visit the NAA's excellent website at
http://www.aphasia.org/. 

Thank you, 
-Whitney Anne Postman


'More than one million Americans have acquired aphasia - a greater
number of people than have cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis,
Parkinson's disease, or muscular dystrophy. Approximately 20% of the
600,000 Americans who suffer a stroke each year will acquire aphasia.

Aphasia is a language-processing disorder that impairs a person's
ability to speak or understand speech. Aphasia manifests itself
differently in different people, but generally the individual's
intelligence is intact. Nevertheless, they may not be able to read a
utility shut-off notice, ask a waiter for a cup of coffee, or follow a
news story on TV.

The onset is sudden -- in an instant, one's life is irrevocably
altered. The effects are generally long-term. "One does not recover
from aphasia, one recovers with aphasia," notes National Aphasia
Association (NAA) President Emeritus Martha Taylor Sarno, MA, MD
(hon). Because of the disconnect between their ability to think and
their inability to communicate, people with aphasia often become
extremely frustrated, depressed, and isolated.

To make matters worse, the majority of people with aphasia are
discharged from the hospital without knowing that their condition has
a name or that their condition can improve with time, speech therapy,
and/or community supports. If they do learn they have aphasia, they
are often told, "Nothing can be done about it." Since they are not put
in touch with other people with aphasia, they often feel completely
alone. Even for those who do receive speech therapy, coverage is
usually minimal.

As a result, lack of information about aphasia--what the disorder is,
the fact that long-term improvement is possible, how to communicate
with an individual with aphasia, how to network with other affected
individuals--compounds aphasia's devastating consequences.

As part of National Aphasia Awareness Month, the NAA is working to
dispel the lack of awareness that typically surrounds aphasia by
letting people know that:
* Aphasia is a distinct communication disorder that affects a person's
 ability to use language, not their physical ability to make sounds.
* Aphasia does not usually impair a person's intellect.
* People with aphasia can improve over time.
* Although there is no medical cure for aphasia, speech therapy can
 help people with aphasia improve. People should check their policies
 for the extent of coverage for speech therapy; unfortunately,
 companies have been cutting down on the number of visits they will
 authorize.
* Many people with aphasia find support groups made up of people with
 aphasia a place where they can find information, support and an
 understanding community.


In short, resources are available for coping with aphasia, but both
health care personnel and people with aphasia need to know about them
to avoid the shattering psychosocial effects of aphasia. To learn more
about these resources, contact the National Aphasia Association
Response Center, (800) 922-4622 or naaaphasia.org.

The mission of the National Aphasia Association (NAA) is to reduce the
social and emotional consequences of aphasia by raising greater
awareness of aphasia among the general public; providing information
to people with aphasia and their families; and giving a voice to the
thousands of people who cannot use theirs.'
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