TU promotes awareness of aphasia language impairment

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Disorder affects one in every 250 people

The University of Tulsa Department of Communication Disorders is recognizing National Aphasia Awareness Month in June. Aphasia is a condition of language impairment most often caused by stroke.

Aphasia limits a person’s ability to process language and can be triggered through head trauma, tumors or other brain injuries. Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords has spoken publicly of her battle with aphasia and about her therapy following a gunshot wound to her head in 2011.

According to the National Aphasia Association, the disorder affects one in every 250 people and is more common than Parkinson’s Disease, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. Aphasia most often occurs in older people but can affect individuals at any age.

“Those with aphasia may feel frustrated, hopeless, sad or scared. They could have depression and feel like they’ve lost everything,” says Suzanne Thompson Stanton, coordinator and instructor for the Mary K. Chapman Speech and Hearing Clinic at TU. “We want to promote awareness of the condition and educate the public that it’s not a loss of intelligence, it is a loss of words. It is treatable.”

The TU Department of Communication Disorders encourages those affected by aphasia along with their friends, family and caretakers to seek low-cost individualized therapy from the Chapman Clinic. Patients and their families also can connect and learn how to regain communication abilities at monthly meetings hosted by the Tulsa Aphasia Support Group that meets the second Wednesday of every month at 9:30 a.m. at the Center for Individuals with Physical Challenges, 815 S. Utica Ave.

Suzanne Stanton