The importance of experts in Wernicke's Aphasia treatment

Terry and her partner, Michael, have now made 3 trips to The Aphasia Center. As a “talker” before his stroke, people don’t know how to interact with him now, which is upsetting. But he feels comfortable at the Aphasia Center, where he can have conversations and people know how to work with him.

I’m Terry Galpin-Platner, and I’m here with my partner who has severe fluent aphasia. The first time we were here for six weeks, the second time we were here for four weeks, and this the third time, we are here for four weeks.

I think that my most favorable impressions of the Aphasia Center are the amazing ability of this organization to structure the speech therapy. Specifically for the individual. Michael did a lot of speech therapy at home before we came here. It was not anything I knew about, so it seemed fine and reasonable. And then we got here, where the quality of work and customization for his specific needs have been really remarkable.

The staff is coached and prepared as a team every single session. So if he is having not such a good day, or a bad night the night before, the work that they do every single day is tailored for his condition that day and his condition overall. Since we started coming here, Michael has developed pretty advanced wet macular degeneration. So the first time he was here, he could see much better than he can see right now. The stroke affected his vision, but now it’s much, much worse.

Progress between the first time and the second time was pretty good. After he was here a second time, it was remarkable. He kept on with Internet based (Skype) coaching sessions and therapy session and continues to make amazing progress from the support that he was getting from the staff here.

Summer came along, and things were distracting, and Michael wanted to go fishing, so for a quite a long while Michael wasn’t doing anything. And one days he realized, “Holy Smoke, I’m not seeing my checkbook so well and I’m not having conversations with people”. And that drop in ability was almost 100% due to him falling off his discipline in use of the speech program he received here. It’s really remarkable what happens here.

One of the things that really stands out to me about the things that happens here is the amazingly positive approach they take every single day in encouraging Michael. I see that he responds to that. And he doesn’t do speech therapy at home really, or as much. He really drops off, he doesn’t know that he’s dropped off, and then he comes back in communication with the Aphasia Center, and they say “Gosh Michael, here’s an area we need to re-strengthen”. And then they go for it.

And he feels “Oh, I can do this if I work at it this way or that way”. It’s the positive encouragement that he gets and that he should get.
And you know you run into people you know, and friends, and even closest friends and family and in Michael’s case people don’t know how to have a conversation with him. And Michael is very verbal, he’s been a university professor, he’s a highly educated guy and he loves to talk and analysis and discussions about economy and philosophy and people don’t know how to do that with him, because he can’t talk. But he can do that here. People here care enough to take the time and they have the professional capability to have these conversations with Michael.

So when he’s not here, even though I as his partner and caregiver work really hard at that I’m not enough, so keeping up that positive, keeping up the daily discipline and practice is a huge aspect, and important to do here.