College of Health and Human Sciences to host Aphasia Boot Camp

Aphasia graphicMore than 795,000 people in the United States suffer strokes each year, and approximately two-thirds of these individuals survive.

For most, surviving an acquired brain injury, illness or stroke is just the first step in recovery. Almost every individual will need some form of rehabilitation.

Speech-language pathologists are dedicated to maximizing the quality of life for individuals with a wide range of diagnoses and injuries, including Parkinson’s disease, brain tumors, brain injury, stroke and other neurological disorders.

The most common stroke-related deficits speech-language pathologists treat involve speech/language/cognitive deficits and swallowing difficulties. Strokes affect different areas of the brain so the deficits people have can vary. For example, a stroke in the left side of the brain can impair speech and language skills, while a stroke in the right side can impair cognitive skills like reasoning, memory, problem-solving and attention.

Aphasia is a communication disorder that results from damage to the left side of the brain. Aphasia can cause difficulties in speaking, listening, reading and writing, but does not affect intelligence. Living with aphasia can be confusing, frustrating and isolating.

“There is no complete cure for aphasia. It is a condition that can improve over time with the right treatment and motivation. We want people with aphasia to continue to be as active in the community as they were before the stroke and that is hard for them to do if they can’t communicate,” said Michelle Burton, a member of the clinical faculty in the NIU Speech-Language Pathology Program.

Michelle Burton
Michelle Burton

Burton is a licensed speech-language pathologist who has more than 20 years of experience working with adults with aphasia.

She will supervise the NIU Aphasia Boot Camp for adults with aphasia and their significant others/caregivers. The Aphasia Boot camp is a technology-rich educational and social program.

“The NIU Aphasia Boot Camp is designed to start or continue a patient’s journey toward communication independence,” Burton said.

“During individual sessions, patients will work on the goals that are most important to them. Then we will come together as a group, because the best way to improve communication is to communicate with others,” she added. “The group sessions are a great way to try out new skills that were learned in the individual sessions as well as discuss common problems with other patients.”

Participants will:

  • Meet others through small group interaction
  • Increase social interaction
  • Facilitate communication success
  • Increase confidence
  • Experience aphasia-friendly iPad training and discover new therapeutic apps
  • Learn tools to connect with friends after camp

The eight-week summer camp, from June 4 through July 23, is conducted by a team of graduate students enrolled in the NIU Speech-Language Pathology Program. For more information, call (815) 753-6524 or email mburton3@niu.edu.

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