TomBroussard
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TomBroussard, March 9,  2021  8:42pm EST

Aphasia Recovery & Word-Finding: Neural Knitting by Any Other Name

Dear AHA Friends,

It is impossible for me to describe the process of how my brain got better. It is just as difficult to try to explain how knitting works. Like many things, the process of learning is through experiencing the process itself. The process provides the learning of the product. Knitting is hugely repetitive and, once trained, knitters are unaware of the steps their hands are taking. The brain performs many functions, like riding a bike or tying one’s shoes, without any conscious choices regarding the steps. Once “locked in memory,” the steps continue unabated.

Recovering one’s language from stroke and aphasia is a repairable process using repetitive action. Depending on stroke location, age and severity, recovery still occurs. But there must be a set of activities (conscious or not) designed to trigger growing components of neural plasticity.

Even though I had lost my language from aphasia, I was still capable of getting better, based on the unconscious steps within me. There must always be an urging step or therapeutic step, that induces the next (unconscious) step of plasticity.

Word-finding is one of the aphasia axioms regarding experience-dependent activities that induce plasticity. The speech-language pathology world provides word-finding activities as a foundation for aphasia recovery. It really isn’t word-finding as much as creating and knitting the words that were damaged, given the appearance of being lost.

The act of finding, searching, exploring, hunting, remembering, or imagining a word and its resultant actions is the picture-perfect process of the act of word finding. Of course, words are created (or knitted) rather than “found” (or woven) as part of the process. The lost words from aphasia still exist, yet are a faint trace (but still perceptual) of what they once were. Every time the lost word is searched for, the trace becomes less faint and more visible.

The act of “effortful trying” induces the appropriate act of “knitting” the word. Every induced-dependent activity produces brain flows that create more dendrites, dendritic spines, synapses, and fiber. Billions of bits of built-up neural matter eventually recreate the lost words. The more the conscious act is repeated, the more the unconscious internal act triggers a corresponding amount of growth with Plasticity Ink.TM

Please see my full article and video at https://youtu.be/1XVjYRi7lck

Thanks…have a great aphasia day!

Tom

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