Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Diving Bell and The Butterfly Trailer (Friday November 30)

City Cinemas Angelika Film Center (add to My Theaters)
(City Cinemas) 18 W. Houston St., New York, NY 10012, 212-995-2000

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
PG-13 1 hr 54 mins 8.1/10 (650 votes)

Showtimes: 12:15pm | 2:45 | 5:15 | 7:45 | 10:15 | 12:30am

Lincoln Plaza Cinemas (add to My Theaters)
(Independent) 1886 Broadway, New York, NY 10023, 212-757-2280

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly
PG-13 1 hr 54 mins 8.1/10 (650 votes)

Showtimes: 11:05am | 1:15pm | 3:30 | 5:50 | 8:10 | 10:30

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

AAC: Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Until recently, people with complex communication needs have had no access to professional interpreters. The Swedish Speech Interpretation Service (SSIS) is attempting to address this problem. This qualitative study reports on how 12 persons with aphasia experienced the services of a professional interpreter from the SSIS. The results are presented in two themes: (a) The purpose of using an interpreter, which addresses issues relating to autonomy, privacy, and burden on family members; and (b) perceptions of quality of service, which addresses issues relating to the skills and professionalism of and accessibility to interpreters. Results highlight the ongoing need for the SSIS and its importance to the participants. The professional interpreter as an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) “tool” that could be used to enhance the participation of people with aphasia in the community-at-large, is also discussed; as is whether relatives and other non-professionals or professional interpreters should interpret for people with

Aphasia sufferer writes of his struggle

While working as an insurance agent in the morning of March 10, 2000, Tsuneo Kojima suffered a brain hemorrhage. The hemorrhage caused aphasia--which damages the part of the brain responsible for language and communication--leaving him unable to speak.

In his book, "Ki ga Tsuitara Shitsugosho --Tonikaku...Shibutoku Iko" (When I Came To, I Had Aphasia--Anyway...I'll Never Give Up), Kojima, of Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, says he felt as if "his head had been struck by a hammer," and recalls his struggle with rehabilitation over a seven-year period.

Kojima, 66, was unconscious when he arrived at hospital by ambulance. But despite overcoming his brush with death, he was left unable to utter a single word, and was unable to tell doctors his name and address or pronounce numbers.

After being diagnosed with aphasia, his wife bought him books written for 4- and 5-year-old children who are just starting to read hiragana. He took a long time to recognize the characters, and he could not remember how to write them at all.

Difficulties with numbers compounded his struggles. For example, he did not know what number comes after one. "I wondered what I would do if I could not regain my speaking ability," he said.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Music's Mending Powers

(CBS) Dr. Oliver Sacks, played by Robin Williams in the movie "Awakenings," tried using music to arouse the catatonic victims of a rare brain disease.

The movie was based on a book and documentary about Sack's patients in the 1960s.

"These were people who couldn't generate any movement or any speech for themselves, sometimes until or unless they heard music," Dr. Sacks told Sunday Morning host Charles Osgood "And then suddenly they'd be able to flow, to dance, to sing. It was miraculous to see them, amazing."

A pianist himself, Dr. Sacks has spent years exploring the effects of music on the brain, chronicled in his latest book, "Musicophilia."

"I see patients with all sorts of neurological conditions who could be greatly helped by music," Dr. Sacks said. "People with Parkinson's disease who can't generate a sense of rhythm of their own, who can't flow, who can't move, but you give them rhythmical music and they can discover their own lost rhythm."

At Beth Abraham Health Services in the Bronx, Parkinson's patients like Jane Kirby walk cautiously without music, but with music, they step much more boldly.

Music not only stimulates movement. It can trigger memory in Alzheimer's patients.

"There is something immensely tenacious about musical memory," Dr. Sacks said. "And I think this is partly because musical memory or performing memory is lodged in parts of the brain which are not attacked by amnesia."

Another example of the power of music is what Dr. Sacks calls "earworms."

"I think everyone has the experience sometimes of a piece of music which catches their mind, which hooks them, which bores into them, and keeps repeating," Sacks said. "If one looks at functional brain imaging, you will see a repetitive pattern going again and again across the cortex. I think it's almost like a sort of little epilepsy or something like this. But music is more prone to repeat itself than anything else - more prone than words, I think."

Dr. Sacks says humans are naturally musical.

"The ability to respond to rhythm seems to be exclusively human," he said. "It appears spontaneously in every human child. It's not seen in any other animal."

And, he says, music is instrumental to our well being.

"There is something health-giving, I think, about music," Dr. Sacks said. "One's blood pressure comes down. One's pulse is more regular. One's muscles relax when one listens to music. One's spirit is lifted and one is energized. I mean, music just has so much health-giving power." NEXT

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Naamua - Life beyond Loss

Earlier this week we covered a topic which is close to my heart, and with the statistics being as they are, possibly close to yours too. Mark McEwan—the veteran broadcaster—came on to talk about his challenging recovery from a stroke. A terrible affliction, but one that affects 700,000 Americans a year making it the third largest cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.

Mark’s recovery is a true inspiration: he lost the ability to speak and walk, but now walks well and speaks with only mild impairment. He joins the 6 million or so stroke survivors living in the United States. But while more and more people—like Mark—escape death from stroke, the disease is still a leading cause of serious disability.

When my father suffered his fatal stroke—officially labeled a “massive cranial bleed”-- he already knew what it was like to live with disability. Ten years earlier, a blood clot on his spine had left him paralyzed from the waist down meaning he not only became a wheel chair user, but also suffered various health complications. He had to move into a long-term care facility years before he even reached retirement age, and he felt life was all but over.

But then came a ray of light in the form of a nurse named “Mary”. If you believe in these things, you might have called her an angel. A truly beautiful, selfless person who warms the world of everyone she comes into contact with. She had never seen my father walk, play tennis, cook, garden or many of his other favorite pursuits, yet she fell in love with him just the same. They spent 7 happy years together, despite my father’s deteriorating health, and then came the stroke.

The bleed took my father’s life so quickly, Mary had literally given him a cup of tea and the TV remote 2 hours before. I guess it was the very definition of going quietly in your sleep. Considering his health issues including constant infections and almost complete loss of sight, you might call his passing a painful blessing. He got a brief respite from suffering to experience true happiness, before being permanently relieved of pain.

It is devastating to lose someone you love, as I’m sure most of you know. But perhaps for the person themselves there are times when death is welcome

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Life Lessons: The great escape

..........But maybe for him denial stopped working. His disease already had a name, one less likely to stop traffic than Alzheimer's: aphasia, word loss. And it held. For years. Aphasia seemed to cover all the territory, since there were few giveaways in his behavior. He carried a dictionary definition in his pocket and showed it to people he would be meeting for the first time. "Aphasia," it said, "is partial or total loss of the ability to articulate ideas or comprehend spoken or written language, resulting from damage to the brain caused by injury or disease."...........

The return of Edwyn Collins

It’s two and a half years since a double stroke nearly killed Scotland’s post-punk hero. A remarkable journey of rehabilitation has brought him to a place where he’s ready to perform again, gurgling laugh and all. By Craig McLean

"I'm learning One Is A Lonely Number," says Collins. "I'm practising every day." His speaking voice is hesitant and scattershot and sometimes slurred. But his singing voice, when it gets going, is almost as strong as it ever was.

It is two-and-a-half years since Edwyn Collins suffered a stroke. Two strokes, in fact. He nearly died. Then, in the wake of the operation to replace the panel of skull bone that had been removed to allow the neurosurgeons to operate, he also contracted MRSA. He spent six months in hospital. He has been undergoing daily, arduous rehabilitation therapy ever since.

"The part of Edwyn's brain that controls speech andlanguagewasverybadlyhurt,"explains Maxwell. He couldn't speak, read, write. Nor, initially, could he sit up. Nor walk. He lost movement in his right side. He couldn't feed himself. He couldn't do anything, really."

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Amantadine for Adynamic Speech: Possible Benefit for Aphasia?

Special Section
American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 86(8):605-612, August 2007.
Barrett, Anna M. MD; Eslinger, Paul J. PhD

Barrett AM, Eslinger PJ: Amantadine for adynamic speech: possible benefit for aphasia? Am J Phys Med Rehabil 2007;86:605-612.

Objective: Dopaminergic agents may stimulate behavior and verbal expression after frontal lobe dysfunction. Although amantadine is used in neurorehabilitation of motivational disorders and head injury, it is not commonly prescribed to improve aphasia. This pilot study examined verbal fluency on and off amantadine for nonfluent speech.

Design: Four participants undergoing inpatient rehabilitation, meeting criteria for transcortical motor aphasia had stroke (2), stroke postaneurysm surgery (1), or brain tumor resection (1). We administered 100 mg of amantadine twice a day in an open-label, on-off protocol, with multiple assessments per on-off period.

Results: Off medication, subjects generated a mean 12.62 of words (abnormally few) on the Controlled Oral Word Association test. On medication, word generation significantly improved to 17.71 words (P = 0.04), although scores remained psychometrically in the abnormal range.

Conclusions: Further research on amantadine, specifically for nonfluent speech and nonfluent aphasia, including effects on functional communication and control conditions, may be warranted.

(C) 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Congress Proclaims June National Aphasia Awareness Month!

Washington, DC-
On Wednesday, June 27th, the US Senate approved a resolution declaring June 2007 National Aphasia Awareness Month. S Res 256, sponsored by Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. of Delaware, and cosponsored by Senator Tim Johnson of South Dakota, was passed by unanimous consent. A day later, in the House, Congressman Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts was the sole sponsor of H Res 523, which also passed unanimously.

Dr. Paul Rao, Speech Language Pathologist, member of the National Aphasia Association (NAA) Board and Vice President of National Rehabilitation Hospital, sought and received the NAA Board's endorsement to pursue a resolution in the House and the Senate declaring June 2007 as Aphasia Awareness Month.

Under the legislative auspices of Senator Tim Johnson's office, the NAA was able to craft a resolution that describes the cause and effects of aphasia and the need to increase public awareness of this silent disability.

These Congressional Resolutions are now part of the Congressional Record and can be used as advocacy tools to increase aphasia awareness throughout the year. The National Aphasia Association is indebted to Senators Biden and Johnson and their legislative staffs and to Congressman Markey and his legislative staff in bringing this resolution to full fruition in June of 2007.

The NAA encourages everyone to write a letter to the sponsors of the resolution, thanking them for devoting their time to this important issue.
About The National Aphasia Association
The NAA's mission is to educate the public to know that the word aphasia describes an impairment of the ability to communicate, not an impairment of intellect. The NAA makes people with aphasia, their families, support systems, and health care professionals aware of resources to recover lost skills to the extent possible, to compensate for skills that will not be recovered and to minimize the psychosocial impact of the language impairment.
The National Aphasia Association
Ellayne Ganzfried, Executive Director
Rachel Quimby, Information Coordinator

Young@Heart sing 'Fix You' by Coldplay

'It's been like going back to school again'

Patients band together, tackle communication troubles brought by stroke, illness, injury

Stroke victim Pat White, 76, struggles with speaking and uses a voice-enhancement machine to help her to be understood.Bob Pennell
Sanne Specht

MEDFORD — Les Brewer woke up one morning with no memory and no ability to communicate.

The 75-year-old had suffered a life-threatening stroke shortly after Thanksgiving at his home in Prospect.

Communication tips

Stroke, brain injury or illness can cause aphasia, a communication disorder that can affect a person's ability to use and understand spoken or written words. Speech pathologist Julie Mondz-Kleinman suggests some tips to ease communication:

  • Look at the person while you're talking to him.
    • Ask if it's OK to help with sentence completion.
    • Try substituting a different but similar word or ask the person to describe the missing word, how you use the item, what it looks like, etc.
    • Remember, everyone experiences the occasional word retrieval problems, Mondz-Kleinman says. And things are worse when the person trying to communicate is tired, stressed or unfamiliar with the topic under discussion.

"They gave him a 50-50 chance of survival," says his wife, Pat Brewer. "It was terrifying."

But things have improved greatly for the self-described "trucker, mechanic and cowboy" in the past six months as he learns how to cope with life after his stroke.

"It's been like going back to school," Les Brewer says.

School includes participating in a monthly meeting of fellow survivors of stroke, head injury or other neurological disease or disorder who are struggling with communication issues. The meeting is facilitated by Julie Mondz-Kleinman, speech-language pathologist for Providence Medford Medical Center.

Pat Brewer tells Mondz-Kleinman how much the group has helped in her husband's recovery. "Without you and this group, I wouldn't know what to do to help him," she says.

Brain injury or illness can cause a condition called aphasia, which means a loss of language, says Mondz-Kleinman. Independent individuals can suddenly find themselves unable to make their needs known, interact with people in the community, or express their feelings to friends and family members, she says.

"It can be very frustrating," says Mondz-Kleinman. "The words are in the brain but they can't retrieve them. The ideas are there, but sometimes a different word comes out, or nonsense, or part of a word, or nothing."

Mondz-Kleinman carefully leads the conversation around the table. Topics range from hobbies, music, travel and progress. She makes sure everyone has a chance to be heard — and group members are encouraged to communicate by whatever means they can.

Communication is not necessarily about saying words, she says. Sometimes it's pointing to pictures, drawing images or utilizing speech-generating machines, Mondz-Kleinman says.

"Most people will use all the ways," she says. "Whatever works."

Pat White, 76, had a stroke a year and a half ago. White likes to speak for herself, but she sometimes uses a voice enhancement machine that allows for pre-recorded information to be played. She can play the information quickly over a speaker phone if she has an emergency and needs to call 9-1-1, says Mondz-Kleinman.

Brenda Miller, 51, suffered a series of strokes. The "big one" was last August, she says. Miller, who used to bake the famous pies at Becky's Cafe at Union Creek, is being cared for by her friend Cherie Cloud.

Miller shakes her head as the group calls out their guesses for the restaurant's favorite pie. With a smile of relief, she finally points to the word "huckleberry" on a sheet of paper Mondz-Kleinman shows her. Miller wants to get back into baking, but struggles to find the word for "oven" until prompted by Mondz-Kleinman. She also is still experiencing weakness on the right side of her body.

Joe Andrade, 46, is the youngest member of the group on this day. Andrade was living on the streets when he suffered his stroke last February. He happened to be on the phone when he was struck, and the person on the other end called the ambulance, he says. Andrade spent two months in the hospital before his social worker found him a spot in an adult foster care home.

Andrade struggles to communicate as talking is very difficult for him. But when Mondz-Kleinman gets the whole group to sing "Happy Birthday" to one of Miller's friends, he joins in with a shy smile.

"Has anyone noticed singing makes things easier to come out?" Mondz-Kleinman asks.

For most people, language is processed in the left side of the brain. But music is processed on the right side, she says.

Wendell and Katherine Ross were both speech therapists before Wendell suffered a stroke 13 years ago. Although they both had an understanding of speech therapy, neither was prepared for the struggle that lay ahead.

"You feel so frustrated when you can't talk," says Katherine Ross. "Here you have the moral support and some insight for the caregivers and the people with the communication issues."

Isolation is the enemy. People often stop coming to visit friends or relatives who have suffered brain injuries/illnesses that affect communication, says Mondz-Kleinman.

"People are afraid to talk to people with strokes," says Mondz-Kleinman. "But their personalities and ideas are all the same."

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007



Sicko deals with the problems of the American for-profit health insurance and pharmaceutical industries. Its main message is that government-run health care is a better model than the present US health-care system because the present system is designed to maximize profit by minimizing the care delivered to patients.

At one point in the film Moore says: "And the United States slipped to 37 in health care around the world, just slightly ahead of Slovenia."

U.S. health-care system

Anecdotes of people denied care

The movie starts retelling the stories of people who were denied health care, either because they did not have health insurance or because the insurance companies found a way not to pay them. (On February 3, 2006, Moore requested, via his blog, that people send "Health Care Horror Stories" in an effort to share his view on the health care industry.[3])

  • In one case, Doug Noe's insurance provider, Cigna Healthcare, approved a cochlear ear implant for only the left ear of Noe's daughter, Annette, born with an acute hearing disability. Cigna argued that a two-ear operation was "experimental." (When Noe alerted Moore to the case, the insurer reversed its decision.)[4]
  • A woman gets stuck with the ambulance bill after a car accident because she didn't clear the charge with her insurer before losing consciousness.[5]
  • Also shown is the widow of Tracy Pierce, who died from kidney cancer after his insurer denied a possibly life-saving bone-marrow transplant.[5]
  • One woman's insurance provider denied coverage after an operation, because she didn't mention a previous yeast infection on her application.[5]
  • Homeless patients were abandoned by Los Angeles hospitals after they had received some medical treatment. (In May 2007, Kaiser Permanente, a large nonprofit health insurer, settled criminal and civil lawsuits by agreeing to establish new rules for discharging homeless patients; paying $55,000 in fines; covering the city attorney’s investigative costs; and spending $500,000 on the homeless for follow-up care and other services.)[6]
  • Rick accidentally sawed off the tops of his middle and ring fingers on one hand while working at home. He had no insurance and limited funds at his disposal, so he has to choose whether to have the hospital reattach the end of his middle finger for $60,000 or the end of his ring finger for $12,000. (He chose the ring finger.)[5]

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dear France, Thanks for Being You. With Gratitude and Affection, the Rest of Us.

athieu Amalric, here with Anne Consigny, as Jean-Dominique Bauby in “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.”
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Published: May 24, 2007

CANNES, France, May 23 — It may not seem surprising that the leading French film festival should feature a number of movies that show France in a flattering light, but the cinematic love letters to the country popping up on Cannes screens this year are not self-addressed billets-doux, even though high self-regard is a longstanding Gallic tradition. Given that a theme of the recent French presidential election was a perceived national identity crisis, it is possible to imagine the present cluster of pro-French movies by non-French directors as a kind of friendly reassurance. Hey, these filmmakers seem to be saying, don’t be so down on yourselves. We love you.

And so Hou Hsiao-hsien, from Taiwan, paid tribute in “The Flight of the Red Balloon” both to a classic French children’s movie and to the everyday loveliness of Paris. And Michael Moore, as if saying merci for his Palme d’Or three years ago, turned a paean to the French welfare state into the comic centerpiece of “Sicko,” his indictment of the American health care system. So benevolent is the French government, in Mr. Moore’s knowingly wide-eyed account, that it not only treats its citizens’ maladies, but also does their laundry. (Not all the time, of course. Only when there’s a new baby in the house. But still.)

And if a Frenchman should undergo a paralyzing stroke, the government apparently will provide two beautiful women to sit at his bedside, one to help him communicate and the other, a physical therapist, to help him regain use of his mouth by blowing kisses and extending her tongue. (These women are supplementary to the mother of the man’s children, his mistress and the lovely amanuensis dispatched by his editor to help him write a book.)

Granted, state largess is not really the theme of “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” Julian Schnabel’s moving and gorgeously shot adaptation of the best-selling memoir by Jean-Dominique Bauby, who was editor in chief of Elle magazine in France before suffering a stroke at 42. What Mr. Bauby had to endure — full consciousness and complete immobility, apart from the ability to open and close one eye — is horrifying under any circumstances.

But the setting of “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly” is not incidental to its spirit, which is exuberant as well as poignant, and remarkably unsentimental given the subject. Even in his frozen state Mr. Bauby (played by the kinetic French actor Mathieu Amalric) remains a sensualist, an ironist and a bon vivant: very much a Frenchman, you might say. And the matter-of-fact benevolence with which he is treated by most of the people around him also seems, in Mr. Schnabel’s rendering, to be a reflection of national character as much as individual temperament.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Women give aphasia patients place to turn

Pair honored for work with those who can't comprehend language

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Marilyn Certner Smith has devoted her life to making "aphasia" a household word.

"It's an unusual word, and most people don't know what to make of it,"Certner Smith said. "And even with the definition, it's hard for people to grasp it."

Aphasia is the loss of the ability to produce or comprehend language, and typically is caused by a stroke, brain injury or a tumor. There are more than 80,000 cases diagnosed nationwide each year, affecting more people than Parkinson's disease.

Certner Smith, 54, of Madison, and Shirley Morganstein of Montclair were honored on Friday by the New Jersey Speech-Language-Hearing Association for co-founding Speaking of Aphasia, a program that helps patients cope with the disorder. It is the top statewide honor that a speech pathologist can receive, according to NJSLHA's Monique S. Kaye.

"People with aphasia would have nowhere else to turn," Kaye said. "You don't typically see this in a hospital or rehab setting. (People with aphasia) become isolated, but this program gets people together and makes them feel more confident."

Identity blocker

Living with aphasia is like waking up in a foreign country where you can't communicate with anyone. It affects the ability to speak, read, write, understand and use nonverbal communication in varying ways.

The common woe everyone with the disorder shares is that it "strikes the core of who you are as a person," Certner Smith said. "If you have trouble talking, you have trouble showing who you are, because it makes it that much harder to connect with people."

Three years ago, Certner Smith and Morganstein left high-paying jobs -- Certner Smith as the director of rehabilitation at the Kessler Institute --because they missed patient contact, so they created Speaking of Aphasia.

Speaking of Aphasia, based in Montclair, offers one-on-one and group programs for people with aphasia and their communication partners. It also trains speech pathologists to mimic the work that she and Morganstein perform.

Philosophy of treatment

"It's a philosophy of treatment that aims to improve the quality of life, not just communication with people who have aphasia," Certner Smith said. "We look at what people want to do and what people can do instead of looking at obstacles and hardship."

The outcome for each patient is different, she said. Some return to work and others redefine new opportunities for themselves.

Certner Smith has lived with her husband, Jeff, and son, Alex, in Madison for 11 years. When she's not reading or writing about aphasia -- which isn't often, she said -- she enjoys reading fiction, jogging, cooking and spending time with her family.

Certner Smith received a bachelor of arts degree in speech pathology from Ithaca College and a master of arts degree in speech pathology from the University of Illinois. She learned about the field in an introduction to communications course during her freshman year of college and it "instantly clicked," she said.

"It's a wonderful mix of linguistics, medical aspects and education," Certner Smith added.

Although she has performed much research and published numerous articles on aphasia during the past 30 years, she doesn't consider herself an expert.

"I'm still learning," Certner Smith said. "I've had an interesting journey, and I'm just grateful for the opportunity to work with such amazing people. They inspire me to be more open to what matters most in life, and to be more mindful of daily experiences -- you can't help but be moved."

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Swift action, swift recovery

CAPTION: Jane Nordberg/Daily Mining Gazette

Gene Niedholdt works in his office at Dave’s Auto Service in Laurium. The business owner suffered a stroke in late March and is taking steps to reduce his future risks.


LAURIUM — March 30 started out like any other day for Gene Niedholdt.

He dropped his wife, Peg, off at work around 7:30 a.m. and headed to his office at Dave’s Auto Service, the Laurium business he owns and operates.

Gene answered a phone call from a customer wanting an estimate on a vehicle repair, but found he suddenly couldn’t figure out what it was the customer was talking about.

“You better take this,” he said to his daughter, Laura, who works by his side in the office. “This guy is giving me his phone number and I can’t understand him.”

Laura looked at the work order her father had started to fill out and knew immediately that something was very wrong.

“Normally he does his own work orders,” she said. “But within the first 20 minutes of coming to work he couldn’t read what he had written, and he couldn’t understand the words the customer was saying.”

In losing the ability to understand words, Gene was experiencing one of the seven main symptoms of a stroke. Laura finished with the customer and immediately called her mother to tell her that something was wrong.

“Get him to the hospital,” Peg said quickly, and when Laura told her dad to get in the car, he didn’t argue.

“He was more concerned for the business, but I was concerned about his health,” Peg said.

She had every right to be concerned.

Gene had experienced a stroke, the number one cause of adult disability and the third leading cause of death in the United States.

According to the American Stroke Foundation, a stroke is sometimes referred to as a brain attack because it impacts the brain in much the same way a heart attack impacts the heart. Every stroke is different and is largely dependent upon the area of the brain affected and the length of time that area is without oxygen.

An hour after his first symptoms appeared, Gene lost the ability to speak.

Oddly, Gene had none of the other symptoms typically associated with a stroke: sudden weakness in the limbs, numbness on one side of the face or body, loss of vision in one eye, having trouble walking, feeling dizzy and losing balance and severe headache.

“The doctors must have asked me 20 times if I had a headache, but I felt absolutely fine,” Gene said.

Physicians at Keweenaw Memorial Medical Center in Laurium responded immediately by administering a battery of tests and consulting with neurologists at Marquette General Hospital.

Gene was diagnosed with Broca’s Aphasia, named after Paul Broca (1824-1880), a French neurologist who first concluded that the integrity of the left frontal convolution was responsible and necessary for articulate speech. That region of the brain is thus named “Broca’s convolution,” or the “motor speech area.”

Gene was kept for observation overnight, but experienced no further symptoms. He was released on Saturday, when he promptly returned to the shop to check on the business left in Laura’s care all day Friday.

“Just to show you how dedicated these guys are,” he said of the employees in his shop. “They all came in to see if she needed any help. The community support has been absolutely terrific.”

Gene was lucky in that his symptoms were relatively mild at the onset and have gradually diminished. Physicians told the family that their quick action was key, as the longer the elapsed time before treatment, the greater the loss of brain function.

In some instances, a clot-busting drug can be administered to diminish the effects of a stroke. However, there is only a three-hour window in which the drug can be administered.

The Niedholdts declined the drug treatment for various reasons, but are confident their quick action helped to save Gene’s quality of life.

“They kept telling us that we did the right thing by bringing him in so quickly,” Peg said. “Time is really vital in responding to a stroke or a possible stroke.”

A CT scan showed the point when Gene’s brain was deprived of oxygen, but the cause may never be known. His recovery includes a strict sodium-free diet, visits to an occupational therapist twice weekly, a daily siesta and a general warning to slow down.

“I don’t know what to say except that we were truly blessed,” Peg said.

“Blessed that Laura acted so quickly, blessed to have the excellent care we did, and blessed to have loyal and caring employees and customers.”

No one knows that better than Gene.

“I’m here and able to function as well as I am because all of that came together,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”

The University of Michigan Aphasia Program News

Emmy and Tony Award-winning Actress Julie Harris to Headline University of Michigan Aphasia Program Event

ANN ARBOR, Mich., April 25 PRNewswire-USNewswireJulie Harris, one of the most awarded actresses of the stage and screen, will headline the University of Michigan Aphasia Program's (UMAP) 60th anniversary fundraising event, "It's a RAP: 60 Year Celebration of the University of Michigan Aphasia Program." The event also includes an exclusive screening of her new movie, "The Way Back Home," in which Ms. Harris portrays a woman who had a stroke. The event will take place June 1-2, 2007.

Julie Harris, 81, is a former client of the University of Michigan Aphasia Program ( She attended the program in May 2006 as part of her recovery from a stroke and resulting aphasia that occurred in May 2001.

Ms. Harris is regarded as the most respected and honored stage actress in America and is the most honored performer in Tony history with 10 nominations and five victories (1952, 1956, 1969, 1973 and 1977). She is the only actress to date to receive 10 nominations and received a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. During her acting career, she won three Emmys (1962, 1969 and 2000). Television fans of "Knots Landing" remember her fondly in the role of Lilimae Clemens. She was awarded the American National Medal of the Arts in 1994 by the National Endowment of the Arts in Washington D.C. and was a recipient of 2005 Kennedy Center Honors, along with Robert Redford, Tina Turner, Tony Bennett and Suzanne Farrell. She was born in Grosse Pointe, Michigan.

The University of Michigan Aphasia Program attracts clients from across the United States and other countries due to its unique approach to aphasia therapy. It is an intensive program, with clients participating in six-week sessions, receiving 23-hours of therapy each week. Therapy is conducted by clinically-trained professional speech language pathologists (not students), offering an individualized therapy program with a limited number of participants to ensure a high ratio of staff-to-clients for the most effective one-on-one treatment.

Aphasia is an acquired language disorder that results from damage to parts of the brain. Stroke is the leading cause; however, it also can result from brain tumors, head injuries, brain infections, and other conditions of the brain. People with aphasia know what they want to say but cannot always get out the words. It can affect talking, understanding, reading and writing. Memory and thinking also can be reduced. An estimated one million Americans of all ages have aphasia.

The two-day event begins the afternoon of June 1 with informational workshops on the latest in stroke and aphasia research and therapy featuring Dr. Jennifer Majersik of the University of Michigan Stroke Center, and Dr. David Steinberg, Medical Director for Rehabilitation Services, St. Joseph Hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The workshops will take place at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest.

On the evening of June 1, there will be a special exclusive first public screening of Julie Harris' new movie, "The Way Back Home," which will take place at the historic Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, Michigan ( Also attending the event will be producer Michael H. King, who will introduce Ms. Harris, and the movie, to the audience.

On Saturday, June 2, morning and afternoon workshops will focus on the latest technology to help clients and family members; multi-modal communication techniques; music and art therapy; and, caregiver support. On the evening of June 2 a gala reception will be held to honor Ms. Harris, and will include a special VIP reception where guests will have the opportunity to meet Julie Harris. All events on June 2 will take place at the Ann Arbor Marriott Ypsilanti at Eagle Crest.

For more information, visit the UMAP website at or call (734) 764-8440.

The University of Michigan Aphasia Program was established in 1947 to assist World War II veterans who sustained injuries in combat. It is the oldest, most effective program of its kind for the treatment of aphasia in the United States. The program has successfully treated thousands of individuals with aphasia. UMAP's intensive program provides its clients with as much therapy during a six-week session as a person would receive in one year of traditional therapy. More information about the University of Michigan Aphasia Program can be found at

SOURCE The University of Michigan Aphasia Program

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Organize a Fundraising Event

National Stroke Association's mission to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke is helped by fundraising events planned by people whose lives have been touched by stroke -- people just like you.

Each year many people plan, participate in, and contribute to community fundraising events to increase awareness of stroke and raise money that allows National Stroke Association to achieve its mission.

Examples of past events range from fashion shows and high school plays to sporting events such as motorcycle runs, walks, swims, and marathons.
Read more about past events.

Each event is unique because it has your personal touch -- you come up with the fundraising idea, you share your particular experience with stroke, and you reach out to your own network of friends, family and community.

Whether you're planning or contributing to such an event, National Stroke Association can help you...

We can promote your event...

We can provide you with educational materials...

We can facilitate the donation process...

We invite you to join National Stroke Association in our efforts to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by planning a fundraising event of your own.
For more information, please contact:
Carol Griffin (303) 754-0917

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Act F.A.S.T.

FACE Ask the person to smile.

Does one side of the face droop?
ARMS Ask the person to raise both arms.

Does one arm drift downward?
SPEECH Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.

Are the words slurred? Can he/she repeat the sentence correctly?
TIME If the person shows any of these symptoms, time is important.

Call 911 or get to the hospital fast. Brain cells are dying.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Statistics by Country for Aphasia

Country/Region Extrapolated Prevalence Population Estimated Used
Aphasia in North America (Extrapolated Statistics)
USA 1,079,615 293,655,4051
Canada 119,514 32,507,8742
Mexico 385,880 104,959,5942
Aphasia in Central America (Extrapolated Statistics)
Belize 1,003 272,9452
Guatemala 52,502 14,280,5962
Nicaragua 19,704 5,359,7592
Aphasia in Caribbean (Extrapolated Statistics)
Puerto Rico 14,330 3,897,9602
Aphasia in South America (Extrapolated Statistics)
Brazil 676,842 184,101,1092
Chile 58,176 15,823,9572
Colombia 155,554 42,310,7752
Paraguay 22,762 6,191,3682
Peru 101,265 27,544,3052
Venezuela 91,975 25,017,3872
Aphasia in Northern Europe (Extrapolated Statistics)
Denmark 19,902 5,413,3922
Finland 19,170 5,214,5122
Iceland 1,080 293,9662
Sweden 33,038 8,986,4002
Aphasia in Western Europe (Extrapolated Statistics)
Britain (United Kingdom) 221,583 60,270,708 for UK2
Belgium 38,045 10,348,2762
France 222,147 60,424,2132
Ireland 14,593 3,969,5582
Luxembourg 1,701 462,6902
Monaco 118 32,2702
Netherlands (Holland) 59,993 16,318,1992
United Kingdom 221,583 60,270,7082
Wales 10,727 2,918,0002
Aphasia in Central Europe (Extrapolated Statistics)
Austria 30,054 8,174,7622
Czech Republic 4,581 1,0246,1782
Germany 303,031 82,424,6092
Hungary 36,883 10,032,3752
Liechtenstein 122 33,4362
Poland 142,008 38,626,3492
Slovakia 19,939 5,423,5672
Slovenia 7,395 2,011,473 2
Switzerland 27,392 7,450,8672
Aphasia in Eastern Europe (Extrapolated Statistics)
Belarus 37,906 10,310,5202
Estonia 4,932 1,341,6642
Latvia 8,479 2,306,3062
Lithuania 13,264 3,607,8992
Russia 529,316 143,974,0592
Ukraine 175,485 47,732,0792
Aphasia in the Southwestern Europe (Extrapolated Statistics)
Azerbaijan 28,927 7,868,3852
Georgia 17,256 4,693,8922
Portugal 38,691 10,524,1452
Spain 148,091 40,280,7802
Aphasia in Southern Europe (Extrapolated Statistics)
Greece 39,145 10,647,5292
Italy 213,446 58,057,4772
Aphasia in the Southeastern Europe (Extrapolated Statistics)
Albania 13,032 3,544,8082
Bosnia and Herzegovina 1,498 407,6082
Bulgaria 27,639 7,517,9732
Croatia 16,532 4,496,8692
Macedonia 7,500 2,040,0852
Romania 82,189 22,355,5512
Serbia and Montenegro 39,801 10,825,9002
Aphasia in Northern Asia (Extrapolated Statistics)
Mongolia 10,115 2,751,3142
Aphasia in Central Asia (Extrapolated Statistics)
Kazakhstan 55,675 15,143,7042
Tajikistan 25,777 7,011,556 2
Uzbekistan 97,097 26,410,4162
Aphasia in Eastern Asia (Extrapolated Statistics)
China 4,775,174 1,298,847,6242
Hong Kong s.a.r. 25,202 6,855,1252
Japan 468,136 127,333,0022
Macau s.a.r. 1,637 445,2862
North Korea 83,446 22,697,5532
South Korea 177,329 48,233,7602
Taiwan 83,639 22,749,8382
Aphasia in Southwestern Asia (Extrapolated Statistics)
Turkey 253,286 68,893,9182
Aphasia in Southern Asia (Extrapolated Statistics)
Afghanistan 104,829 28,513,6772
Bangladesh 519,634 141,340,4762
Bhutan 8,035 2,185,5692
India 3,915,700 1,065,070,6072
Pakistan 585,280 159,196,3362
Sri Lanka 73,180 19,905,1652
Aphasia in Southeastern Asia (Extrapolated Statistics)
East Timor 3,747 1,019,2522
Indonesia 876,665 238,452,9522
Laos 22,309 6,068,1172
Malaysia 86,479 23,522,4822
Philippines 317,065 86,241,6972
Singapore 16,006 4,353,8932
Thailand 238,476 64,865,5232
Vietnam 303,907 82,662,8002
Aphasia in the Middle East (Extrapolated Statistics)
Gaza strip 4,871 1,324,9912
Iran 248,173 67,503,2052
Iraq 93,289 25,374,6912
Israel 22,790 6,199,0082
Jordan 20,629 5,611,2022
Kuwait 8,299 2,257,5492
Lebanon 13,886 3,777,2182
Saudi Arabia 94,838 25,795,9382
Syria 66,238 18,016,8742
United Arab Emirates 9,279 2,523,9152
West Bank 8,497 2,311,2042
Yemen 73,620 20,024,8672
Aphasia in Northern Africa (Extrapolated Statistics)
Egypt 279,843 76,117,4212
Libya 20,704 5,631,5852
Sudan 143,927 39,148,1622
Aphasia in Western Africa (Extrapolated Statistics)
Congo Brazzaville 11,022 2,998,0402
Ghana 76,312 20,757,0322
Liberia 12,465 3,390,6352
Niger 41,766 11,360,5382
Nigeria 65,258 12,5750,3562
Senegal 39,897 10,852,1472
Sierra leone 21,631 5,883,8892
Aphasia in Central Africa (Extrapolated Statistics)
Central African Republic 13,759 3,742,4822
Chad 35,068 9,538,5442
Congo kinshasa 214,400 58,317,0302
Rwanda 30,289 8,238,6732
Aphasia in Eastern Africa (Extrapolated Statistics)
Ethiopia 262,266 71,336,5712
Kenya 121,257 32,982,1092
Somalia 30,531 8,304,6012
Tanzania 132,613 36,070,7992
Uganda 97,023 26,390,2582
Aphasia in Southern Africa (Extrapolated Statistics)
Angola 40,362 10,978,5522
Botswana 6,026 1,639,2312
South Africa 163,413 44,448,4702
Swaziland 4,298 1,169,2412
Zambia 40,535 11,025,6902
Zimbabwe 13,499 1,2671,8602
Aphasia in Oceania (Extrapolated Statistics)
Australia 73,210 19,913,1442
New Zealand 14,683 3,993,8172
Papua New Guinea 19,927 5,420,2802

▲TopAbout extrapolations of prevalence and incidence statistics for Aphasia:

These statistics are calculated extrapolations of various prevalence or incidence rates against the populations of a particular country or region. The statistics used for prevalence/incidence of Aphasia are typically based on US, UK, Canadian or Australian statistics. This extrapolation calculation is automated and does not take into account any genetic, cultural, environmental, social, racial or other differences across the various countries and regions for which the extrapolated Aphasia statistics below refer to. As such, these extrapolations may be highly inaccurate (especially for developing or third-world countries) and only give a general indication (or even a meaningless indication) as to the actual prevalence or incidence of Aphasia in that region.

▲TopAbout prevalence and incidence statistics in general for Aphasia:

The word 'prevalence' of Aphasia usually means the estimated population of people who are managing Aphasia at any given time (i.e. people with Aphasia). The term 'incidence' of Aphasia means the annual diagnosis rate, or the number of new cases of Aphasia diagnosed each year (i.e. getting Aphasia). Hence, these two statistics types can differ: a short disease like flu can have high annual incidence but low prevalence, but a life-long disease like diabetes has a low annual incidence but high prevalence. For more information see about prevalence and incidence statistics.