• Aphasia support group

Conversation Group at Ingalls

Helps People with Aphasia Gain Confidence in a Supportive Environment

Imagine talking with a friend but you can’t find the words, or scanning the headlines in the paper, but they look like they’re written in a foreign language.

Every year in the United States, thousands of people are suddenly plunged into a world of jumbled communication because of a condition known as aphasia. Stroke is the leading cause of aphasia, but it can also be caused by other neurological conditions.

“Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder resulting from damage to the language centers and pathways of the brain,” explains Beth Heise, M.S., C.C.C., S.L.P./L., Speech-Language Pathologist and Senior Therapist for the Ingalls Center for Rehabilitative Medicine. “Aphasia can limit listening comprehension, a person’s ability to recall words and produce sentences, and hinder reading and writing. People with aphasia know what they want to say, but can’t find the words to express it.”

Fifty-year-old Pattie Dunne of Frankfort suffered a debilitating hemorrhagic stroke in 2008 at the young age of 43. “For one year, I couldn’t speak at all,” the mother of two grown sons explains. But the former accountant never gave up.

Not only did Pattie work diligently with Ingalls physical therapists to regain her strength and mobility, she spent countless hours with Ingalls speech therapists to overcome her impairment and relearn to communicate.

Imagine talking with a friend but you can’t find the words, or scanning the headlines in the paper, but they look like they’re written in a foreign language.

“For me, talking was everything,” Pattie explains. “Before my stroke, I talked, talked, talked all the time; that all changed in 2008. Thankfully, I can talk again, but now, I talk more slowly and take my time.”

One powerful resource Pattie has tapped into is the monthly Aphasia Conversation Group hosted by Ingalls. The only one of its kind in the South Suburbs, the group provides a comfortable and supportive environment for socializing, practicing communication skills, and conversing with others who are dealing with aphasia. By sharing their personal struggles and encouraging each other, members gain confidence.

At its most recent meeting, friendly conversation and laughter filled the room.

“It’s been a great help to me,” Pattie adds. “I really enjoy the meetings and the friends I’ve made there.” With her newfound confidence, Pattie plans to move to Georgia to join her son and looks forward to putting her budding photography skills to use.

“When you have aphasia, it’s really hard to communicate,” she said. “It’s taken a lot of work – and I’m still working on it – but I’m proof that you can regain your communication skills.”

For more information about the Ingalls Aphasia Conversation Group, call Beth Heise, MS CCC SLP/L, Speech-Language Pathologist and Senior Therapist for the Ingalls Center for Rehabilitative Medicine, at ext. 4232.

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