TomBroussard
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TomBroussard, April 20,  2021  2:01pm EST

The Rosetta Stone of Aphasia Recovery: Persistent and Repetitive Language Activities

Dear AHA/ASA Friends and Colleagues,

I had a small, clay model of the Rosetta Stone when I was young. It had letters on one side and was blank on the other. I would rub the stone in my pocket and could feel the letters, knowing that it was written (and translated) over two thousand years ago.

Today, the Rosetta Stone is considered the critical clue to any new field of knowledge.

I didn’t embark on any “new field of knowledge” until I had a stroke and aphasia on September 26, 2011 and could not read, write or speak well. That was the beginning of understanding that there is a Rosetta Stone for aphasia recovery too.

After a couple of months of persistent reading, writing, and speaking activities, I began to realize (although still somewhat vaguely) that the three language modalities were all damaged but in different ways.

At that point, given that I was experiencing continued reading, writing, and speaking deficits, I started my own aphasia report card three months post-stroke. My grades in my speech sessions were going up and gave the appearance that my language was doing better but my aphasia report card told a different story.

I wrote this in my diary, “Communication report (Aphasia)” on December 16, 2011 with grades for Writing, Speaking, Understanding/Auditory, and Reading. Writing was D-, Speaking was C+, Understanding/Auditory was C+, and Reading was C-.

As I became more (at least subliminally) aware of my deficits, I didn’t know that being consciously aware of those deficits was one of the active ingredients of solving the deficits. Awareness is an important step. Educating the patients about the structure, ability, and capacity of the remaining cells that induce plasticity is also very important.

But what is needed most is a written prescription that provides the behavioral treatment needed for PWA, their family and caregivers, at the start (not waiting until the end) of formal speech therapy. The prescription must outline the necessary steps that provide the habitual, long term structure needed to organize ongoing, persistent and repetitive language activities over and above the speech sessions which are often limited.

Quite accidently, I was already working off a treatment plan for my aphasia recovery without realizing that they were highly therapeutic and designed to induce plasticity every single day. The persistent and repetitive language activities themselves are the Rosetta Stone of aphasia recovery.

Please see the full article and associated video, https://youtu.be/ShANcDTHBwU

Thanks again and have a great Aphasia Day!

Tom

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