Are you a speech-language pathologist or other medical professional? Want to know more about intensive aphasia treatment at our facility?
What’s the deal with intensive aphasia therapy?
Intensive aphasia treatment has actually been around since WWII, when returning soldiers received therapy at VA Centers partnered with universities for their head injuries. Interest in intensive treatment methods remained as the services dwindled, and there was a resurgence in the 1970s of research interest in intensive treatment. An important meta-analysis was published by Robey in 1998 showing that across 55 studies, more therapy produced better outcomes in aphasia.
Why aren’t there more centers who do intensive aphasia treatment if it’s so important?
It is incredibly costly to conduct full-time, year-round intensive aphasia treatment. Our facility includes waterfront condos, 1:1 therapy time 4 out of 5 hours per day, and includes lunch and OT. Each client receives a final report and a step-by-step home program that is tailored to the individual–it’s not the same recommendations for each person. Additionally, families looking for intensive aphasia treatment want an expert in aphasia with proven results.
Who should I refer?
Many families think that their loved one’s aphasia or circumstances are unique, which typically isn’t the case. Since we only do intensive aphasia therapy, we’ve seen all types and severities of aphasia. We’ve treated people with very severe apraxia who have one or two phonemes all the way up to mild anomic aphasia. We can typically work with anyone who is medically stable and has the stamina for treatment, although each application is thoroughly reviewed and discussed before acceptance.
What happens after I refer someone?
There are a few different ways to get started. Typically the family calls or emails us with a little information about their loved one and their situation. Some people fill out the online application, which I then review and make recommendations or request more information.
How long is the treatment?
This varies, but the shortest session is 4 weeks. Unless someone has already been to our intensive program, anything less than 4 weeks isn’t going to get them to where they want to go. That said, some people come for 4 weeks because they just want to see what it’s like or they have financial limitations. The most commonly recommended is six weeks, although many people choose to add another two weeks once they start treatment. Through my experience in the past 9 years, it takes around 6 weeks to make the changes in awareness, comprehension, strategy use and more.
What if they can’t afford it?
All you need to do is let people know that there are options after outpatient treatment. We can best determine per individual how to troubleshoot the financial aspect–some people have held medical fundraisers, gotten insurance reimbursement, or other means of funding their treatment. If your patient is on Medicaid, you may want to determine if your local university has a student intensive program.
Why should I tell my patients about intensive treatment? Isn’t it exactly what I’m doing?
You don’t get much training in aphasia in school, and you may not see a lot of patients with aphasia. Many families that come to us come right after their outpatient discharge and haven’t been given any direction on what their options are or what to do next. Their outpatient therapist or doctor may have told them that they won’t get any better.
Intensive aphasia treatment has more than 25 years of research behind its effectiveness. It’s the best way for families with aphasia to make progress faster, but it can also be the only way to get past some of the issues that you can’t make a dent in for only two hours a week. We constantly assess and re-assess different approaches so that we can immediately move forward with successful approaches and discard ones that don’t fit the client.
Can anyone make progress? I thought there was a six month window.
The six month window is largely a myth, with the exception of the speed of the recovery. While the brain is healing, there tends to be larger amount of change that can take place physically and within speech and language. However, we’ve had clients who are more than 14 years post onset make significant changes in their aphasia. See our representative case studies for details.
Do you treat apraxia? Dysarthria? Primary Progressive Aphasia?
Yes, we can and do treat apraxia. Aphasia and apraxia are not separate things unless it’s Primary Progressive Apraxia of Speech, and yes, we’ve treated that, too. We’ve treated PPA intensively as well as dysarthria from stroke/brain injury.
What if they come and don’t like it?
This is a common concern since most people don’t know what an intensive program is like. However, it’s never happened that someone has come and not liked it. In the event that this ever did happen, no one pays for services they don’t receive.
What happens if someone has a medical issue while they’re there?
There are three hospitals within 15 minutes of our office and housing. Each apartment includes a folder full of local medical and other information.