Wednesday, March 18, 2015

What is wrong with us! A lot: Aphasia, Apraxia, and Dysarthria

This morning, from 10:30 to Noon, at St. Lukes in Meridian Idaho, I participated in the “Aphasia, Apraxia, and Dysarthria Support Group” started a year ago through Idaho State University. We meet weekly. 

So, what is wrong with us?

Aphasia is the name given to a collection of language disorders caused by damage to the brain. A requirement for a diagnosis of aphasia is that, prior to the illness or injury, the person's language skills were normal. The difficulties of people with aphasia can range from occasional trouble finding words to losing the ability to speak, read, or write, but does not affect intelligence. This also affects visual language such as sign language. The term "aphasia" implies a problem with one or more functions that are essential and specific to language function. It is not usually used when the language problem is a result of a more peripheral motor or sensory difficulty, such as paralysis affecting the speech muscles or a general hearing impairment

Apraxia is a motor disorder caused by damage to the brain, in which someone has difficulty with the motor planning to perform tasks or movements when asked, provided that the request or command is understood and he/she is willing to perform the task. Apraxia is an acquired disorder of motor planning, but is not caused by incoordination, sensory loss, or failure to comprehend simple commands (which can be tested by asking the person to recognize the correct movement from a series). It is caused by damage to specific areas of the cerebrum. Apraxia should not be confused with ataxia, a lack of coordination of movements; aphasia, an inability to produce and/or comprehend language; abulia, the lack of desire to carry out an action; or allochiria, in which patients perceive stimuli to one side of the body as occurring on the other. Developmental coordination disorder (DCD) is the developmental disorder of motor planning.

Dysarthria is a motor speech disorder resulting from neurological injury of the motor component of the motor-speech system and is characterized by poor articulation of phonemes (cf. aphasia: a disorder of the content of language).In other words, it is a condition in which problems effectively occur with the muscles that help produce speech, often making it very difficult to pronounce words. It is unrelated to any problem with understanding cognitive language.Any of the speech subsystems (respiration, phonation, resonance, prosody, and articulation) can be affected, leading to impairments in intelligibility, audibility, naturalness, and efficiency of vocal communication.

So, every stroke story is a little different. We all have varying degrees of “issues.” Reading, writing, speaking, etc. are problems.

After my strokes, I attended a summer Aphasia Workshop in June of 2012. It was a two week program, and it helped me a lot. I became friends with several other stroke survivors.

ISU is not involved in the “Aphasia, Apraxia, and Dysarthria Support Group” anymore.  Our group sets our own agendas, arranges speakers and video presentations, etc. Usually, we have about 5 or 6 people attend. We are our basic ground rules:

Everybody who is a stroke survivor and is experiencing aphasia, apraxia, and/or dysarthria is welcome. 

Caretakers are welcome to introduce your stroke survivor, if needed.

However, our survivors want to interact together alone. Though we appreciate and need our caregivers, WE want to be with each other not caregivers!

Our goal for the group:
1.      Survivor—want to be vital, not victim
2.      Acceptance—who we are (AAD) through stroke
3.      Hope—we can get better, not just limited to AAD
4.      Respect—honor ourselves and others
5.      Integrity—confidentiality, dealing with others
6.      Service—helping others
7.      Courage—facing truth about ourselves and our potential

I am so grateful for the friendships I have developed because of my strokes. It is camaraderie that we did not choose but we share things that no one will ever understand. 

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