Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Aphasia...Soo frustrating!!

           Picture this.  You are at your grandparent’s house helping them clean out their garage.  As you are helping them move boxes around, your grandfather starts complaining of numbness in his right hand and arm.  You both do not think anything of it because of the strenuous work; however, as time goes on he starts getting a headache and cannot see clearly out of his right eye.  You make him take it easy and sit down because you realize there is something clearly wrong.  After forcing him to go to the hospital, you find out that he was having a stroke.  Because of the severity of the stroke, he now has trouble speaking and being able to express his thoughts; also known as an aphasia.    

                Even though this is a made up story, these situations do happen almost every day.  Over Christmas break, as I was shadowing a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) at Fisher Titus Medical Center, I was fortunate enough to be able to see the post-tests done on a stroke patient.  The tests performed made sure that the patient did not have any droop in their facial muscles, they made sure the patient had the  ability to swallow food of different consistencies, and was able to have normal conversation with the SLP.  The whole process was called a bedside swallow evaluation.  The SLP asked the patient what their name was, why they were in the hospital, what year it was, and who was the president.  These tests were performed on the patient in order to see if they were suffering from any type of aphasia. 

                Aphasia is a type of disorder resulting from there being damage done to the brain affecting the areas in which language is controlled.  Speaking, listening, reading, and writing are different aspects of language that can be affected by aphasia.  The patient in this situation suffers from an expressive aphasia.  How would you feel if you could understand perfectly what people were saying to you, but you just could not get the words out to respond to them?  It would be a tough situation to have to go through every day of your life.  Not only would this be very frustrating, but it would limit what you are able to do because certain people may not know your condition or why you are not responding to them. 

                By working with a SLP, they can help patients correct this disorder.  Depending on how bad the aphasia is, different tactics are taken to treat the disorder.  Formal or informal tactics are used for treatment and even computer programs can be used to help get their brain activity working in order to use expressive language.  These formal or informal tactics are activities as simple as repeating words or reading words off a list.  When the patient struggles with one, the SLP will help them make the right movements with their mouth and lips in order for the word to come out clearly.  The word is repeated until the patient gets it right or as close to being right as they can! 

                One blog that I came across called, Expressive Aphasia, is about a person’s experience with recovering from a stroke that lead to an aphasia.  This person also had expressive aphasia.  He went through many sessions of therapy with a SLP and is now almost fully recovered!  Going through and reading his experiences made me really think about how lucky I am to be able to express myself without any troubles.  It had to have been one of the most frustrating things to go through when before the stroke he was a normal talking person.  It is a great feeling knowing that there are people out there (SLP) that can help people regain their ability to speak after such a traumatic experience like a stroke, causing brain damage. 


                In this post, I really tried to incorporate a story that hooked the reader and made them want to continue reading.  I also tried to keep the story relevant throughout the whole post, that way the reader would have a connection to what they read at the beginning.  I kept my writing at a more personable level, so it was an easy read throughout the whole post.