By Michele Munz | St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Nearly every weekday for a six-week summer boot camp, they meet for group therapy in a classroom at Fontbonne University. They all suffer with aphasia. A stroke has limited their ability to communicate their thoughts, find the right words, read or write.
Each week has a theme, such as current events, entertainment, or health and wellness. At one recent meeting, the group played a “Jeopardy!”-like trivia game. Olympics was as one of the categories.
Unlike real “Jeopardy!”, they could help one another figure out the answers. Aphasia doesn’t impair one’s intelligence, and this is a smart bunch. There’s a young former Marine, a retired college professor, software developer, nurse, mechanical engineer, accountant and journalist.
The Aphasia Boot Camp is offered each summer by the university’s communication disorders department. It started as a two-week test project in 2013 and quickly expanded to include hour-long group therapy sessions that meet four days a week for six weeks, with individual sessions meeting before or after.
Language skills lost during a stroke can rarely be fully restored, so insurance typically covers the cost of speech therapy — often just a couple of hours a week — up until the person’s progress slows or plateaus. But recent research shows that instead of quitting, bouts of intense therapy over a short period of time can help people continue to make gains.
“The idea that recovery is over 10 to 12 months after a stroke is just not the case,” states Amanda Alton, the Fontbonne instructor and licensed therapist overseeing the boot camp.
Thanks to Michele Munz for writing the article; St. Louis Post-Dispatch for committing their resources to publishing the article; Amanda Alton for contributing to the article; Fontbonne University for providing the service described in the article; Google for helping me find the article; and the people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible to include the picture, text and links in this post.