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College Launches Support Group for Individuals with Aphasia

12/03/2009 

SUNY Cortland has started an Aphasia Support Group for brain injury survivors who have aphasia as well as their family members, friends and professionals who work with these individuals.   

Aphasia is the partial or total loss of the power to use or understand words, usually as the result of a brain disease or injury.

“To the best of our knowledge, the closest aphasia support group is 50 miles outside of Cortland,” explained Irena Vincent, an assistant professor in the Communication Disorders and Sciences Department at SUNY Cortland. Organizers consulted the online records of the National Aphasia Association to determine the local need for this group.

One in 250 people in America has aphasia, affecting the individual’s language comprehension and production capabilities, observed Vincent, who is a co-founder of the non-profit, voluntary support group.

“Considering the number of people every year who suffer a brain injury, usually stroke, and then aphasia as one of its consequences, we thought that it would be beneficial to the community to have the group available,” she added.

Providing support to anyone who deals with someone who has aphasia is the primary purpose of the group, she noted. Another goal is to encourage future graduate students in communication disorders and sciences to provide individual treatment services to those with aphasia who attend. The therapy session will be followed by the support group meeting.

The group has met two times since October. The next meeting is from 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16, at Main Street SUNY Cortland, 9 Main St.

The Aphasia Support Group was launched with a $500 Small Grant from the Cortland College Foundation. The funds were used to purchase National Aphasia Association materials related to initiating and enriching aphasia support groups and to disseminate information about the new group to local hospitals, nursing homes, medical offices and the general public.

The Aphasia Support Group founders won the competitive grant by fulfilling the foundation’s criteria of providing special educational opportunities for students; promoting professional development of faculty as teachers, researchers and clinicians; accommodating unique contingencies that fit nowhere else; and enhancing the image of the College.

“The College already has a strong reputation for its community service, which was recently recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching,” said Brent Wilson, another co-founder and an assistant professor of communication disorders and sciences. “Developing a community-oriented group such as an aphasia support group in this region would both justify and further enhance this reputation.”

For more information, call (607) 753-5423 or e-mail Vincent or Wilson.