Aphasia participants playing a game of cornhole, enjoying time together on a sunny day.

Voices for Change: Promoting Aphasia Awareness and Understanding

Aphasia Defined: Aphasia is a language disorder that occurs following a stroke or brain injury. Aphasia impacts each person uniquely, depending on the severity, size and location of the stroke or brain injury. Aphasia affects language abilities, including understanding spoken language, speaking, reading, and writing/typing, making communication difficult.

Speech Therapy: Individuals with aphasia use speech therapy to improve their speech and communication abilities. This can be done one-on-one with a professional speech-language pathologist or in a group therapy setting. The main goal of speech therapy is to improve an individual’s functional communication skills for activities of daily living and improved quality of life. Speech therapy focuses on improving rehabilitation and retraining of communication skills and compensatory training using alternative communication methods.

What Is a Stroke? Stroke Signs and Symptoms

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is stopped, reducing the brain’s overall oxygen supply. Most often, a blood clot or plaque will prevent blood flow from reaching the brain. A less common type of stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures causing bleeding in the brain. Strokes are more common than you may think, affecting 1 out of every 6 individuals. Anyone can have a stroke, but your chances increase if you:

  • Are a male
  • Have a heart disorder
  • Have diabetes
  • Eat foods high in saturated fat
  • Have high blood pressure
  • Have sickle cell disease
  • Are over the age of 55

Learning the warning signs to reduce the impact of a stroke. Warning signs of a stroke follow the acronym BE FAST.

B-Balance: Sudden loss of balance and dizziness.
E-Eyes: Experiencing vision loss.
F-Face: If one side of your face is drooping or if you have an uneven smile.
A-Arm: Experiencing arm weakness in one arm.
S-Speech: Having slurred speech, difficulty forming words, and confusion.
T-Time: Spot a stroke early on and call 9-1-1 immediately when symptoms first appear.

If you are showing any signs above, seek immediate help from those around you, and call 9-1-1 immediately. Ensure your safety first and never be afraid to seek help from medical personnel. Spot a stroke, stop a stroke, and save a life.

Did You Know? In May 2022, Governor Larry Hogan declared Maryland a Smart Stroke state.

How to Prevent a Stroke? Stroke Prevention Tips

Even though anyone could have a stroke, if you find yourself at greater risk, learn the best practices to keep yourself healthy. While strokes are not entirely preventable, you can control your lifestyle habits. Here are some tips to reduce your risk of having a stroke:

  • Lower High Blood Pressure: You can do this by limiting the salt in your diet and avoiding foods high in cholesterol. This includes red meats, dairy, baked goods, and anything fried. Focus on eating vegetables, fruits, and lean meats like chicken and turkey.
  • Exercise: Walking is a low-impact exercise that aids in weight loss and lowers blood pressure. Exercise is healthy for the mind and the body, helping you feel healthier and get stronger.
  • Limit Alcohol Consumption: Drinking more than two alcoholic beverages a day increases your risk of having a stroke. Limit your alcohol consumption to one glass a day or opt for red wine, which is linked to preventing heart disease.
  • Stop Smoking: If you are a smoker, it would be ideal to quit smoking entirely as it accelerates clot formation and plaque buildup, increasing your risk of having a stroke. Consult with your doctor about the best practices to stop smoking.

These are a few lifestyle steps to limit your stoke risk. While strokes can affect anyone, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is key to preventing a stroke.

“Stay focused. Be patient. If more people knew that high blood pressure, diabetes, and drinking alcohol could lead to a stroke…stop the stroke from even happening.” Brian C. (SCALE member since 2022).

The League’s Snyder Center for Aphasia Life Enhancement

The Snyder Center for Aphasia Life Enhancement (SCALE) at The League for People with Disabilities is a specialty adult program serving individuals with aphasia and their families. The SCALE Program focuses on improving the quality of life for individuals with aphasia by giving them a place to connect with peers. SCALE offers interactive group activities to empower individuals as they re-engage in their community. The SCALE Program’s mission also aims to raise public awareness of aphasia by focusing on community outreach and advocacy.

SCALE at The League offers services for those living with aphasia wherever they are in their rehabilitation journey. Individuals participate in an assessment to identify their skills, interests and goals, and choose classes and groups that meet their needs. SCALE partners with local academic universities like Johns Hopkins University, Loyola University, and Towson University to teach and train the next generation of clinical practitioners, including physicians, Speech Language Pathologists, and Occupational Therapists.

“The League has positively impacted my life because I was lost before. The therapists make SCALE fun and special!” – Chris D. (SCALE member since 2019).

What are The League’s programs for aphasia?

SCALE offers a variety of in-person and virtual groups weekly:

Language Groups: Focus specifically on improving language skills like understanding, speaking, reading, writing, and conversations.

Topic-Based Groups: Promote conversation and social communication by centering on topics of interest like sports, pop culture, and travel.

Social Groups: Support social conversation within leisure or movement activities such as wood working or art.

SCALE offers education and support for caregivers including Supported Conversation Training, online resources and peer support group meetings.

“I really enjoy working with my hands and expressing myself non-verbally through art.” – Chris D. (SCALE member since 2019).

How Can You Help the Aphasia Community?

Check out our website and donate now! All proceeds go towards providing SCALE participants with equipment, materials, and resources to support state-of-the-art programming. Be part of keeping this one-of-a-kind resource growing and serving people with aphasia in our community. The League for People with Disabilities appreciates the continuous support and donations of our sponsors, volunteers, and donors.

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