Wednesday, November 21, 2007

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.