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Health Check: Losing the ability to communicate

Health Check: Losing the ability to communicate. (WJAR)

Aphasia: Losing the ability to communicate.

This affects about one million people in this country. The usual causes: A brain injury or stroke.

For 45-year-old Lorna Burke Swanson, it was a stroke three years ago.

"Very little speech," she said.

"It'll affect somebody's ability to speak or their ability to understand what they hear and quite often reading and writing," said Lucia Watson, her speech therapist.

And that's where speech therapy has played a big role in Swanson’s ability to regain her ability to communicate.

"You barely had a few words. Not many individual words,” said Watson, referring to Swanson. “And now I'm hearing sentences."

"It's better and better everyday,” said Swanson.

But, she says it’s frustrating.

And that's what Watson hears a lot from her patients. Things like:

"They treat me like I'm stupid. They don't listen to me. They don't talk to me. They talk to the person next to me,” said Watson.

"One of the things we work on is called total communication and obviously people gesture well, people could draw something. A lot of times when Lorna is trying to think of a word, she'll spell the first letter on the table."

"I work hard. I'm very stubborn,” said Swanson.

But it's not all about what happens in therapy. Each month, Watson and Swanson attend an aphasia conversation group meeting.

"There is that huge sense of peer support. That sense of you know what I'm going through. You've been there. You get it,” said Watson.

This Aphasia Conversation Group meets the second Tuesday of every month at the Sargent Rehab Center in Warwick. It is open to all with this communication disorder and is free of charge.

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