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NAA - Speaking  Out Regional Conference, May 24, Lake Buena Vista
The National Aphasia Association and  co-hosts - the Florida Association of Speech-Language Pathologists & Audiologists (FLASHA)  and Voices of Hope for Aphasia  (Tampa, FL) will present the Speaking Out regional conference on Saturday, May 24.


This conference offers the expertise of leaders in the field of aphasia rehabilitation who will be presenting the latest perspectives on aphasia intervention, treatment and research; community aphasia programs, advocacy and living with aphasia through presentations and hands-on demonstrations. 


Presenters include: 


Leslie Gonzalez-Rothi discussing Aphasia Treatment: What's New

Jacqueline Hinckley discussing Aphasia Research: What's New 

The  NAA Speaking Out regional conference will be held at:

Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa 
1900 E Buena Vista Dr 
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32836


Click here to register for the conference. 


For more information, look at:



Aphasia Recovery Connection - April 2014 Cruise


Editor's Note:
The Aphasia Recovery Connection just completed its second cruise. 
Here ARC co-founders - Christine Huggins and David Dow enjoying  a laugh while on the cruise!  
Aphasia Recovery Connection - April  2014 Cruise


Stroke Awareness
Blood-Brain Barrier in Stroke

A new study says that researchers at UC Irvine and the Salk Institute have found a new mechanism that allows blood to enter the brain immediately after a stroke.

This discovery has the possibility to open the door to

new therapies that may limit or prevent stroke-induced brain damage. During a stroke, the blood-brain barrier is severely damaged and lets blood-borne material into the brain; it is this material that causes the deficits in movement and cognition seen in stroke patients.

The researchers - Dritan Agalliu, assistant professor of developmental & cell biology at UC Irvine, and Axel Nimmerjahn of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, "developed a novel transgenic mouse strain in which they use a fluorescent tag to see the tight, barrier-forming junctions between the cells that make up blood vessels in the central nervous system. This allows them to perceive dynamic changes in the barrier during and after strokes in living animals."

Doctor Agalliu said:

"These findings suggest new therapeutic directions aimed at regulating  flow through endothelial cells in the barrier after a stroke occurs and any such therapies have the potential to reduce or prevent stroke-induced  damage in the brain."  


SLA Corner

Editor's Note: 


Austin White is a speech-language pathologist at Aphasia Toolbox, and with the Veteran's Hospital Administration in Pittsburgh, PA, where he is a clinician in the distinguished Program for Intensive Residential Aphasia  Treatment and Education (PIRATE).  


In this article entitled "I have an iPad. So now what?", Austin writes about the current state of affairs in aphasia-directed applications for the iPad.



Type in the word "aphasia" in the Apple App Store, press enter, and you will immediately be inundated with an overwhelming array of applications. Which one should you choose? Why is this one free and that one costs $19.99?


Navigating through the host of apps-all claiming one virtue or another-is daunting enough for the speech-language pathologist let alone the lay consumer. In hopes of making your search more manageable and fruitful, it first will help to learn a bit about the all-too brief history of mobile application use in aphasia treatment, the different ways apps are currently used by speech-language pathologists, and the continued importance of using evidence-based, Brain Compatible Aphasia Treatment-whether you are using the latest iPad app or lead pencil. 


Given the ubiquity of mobile tablet technology, it is easy to forget that the first iPad was released only a few short years ago in April of 2010. The filed of speech-language pathology, as part of the larger field of health and rehabilitation sciences, was and still is particularly suited both to drive treatment application development and benefit from it. This is because, unlike many (and arguably most) other disciplines in the health and rehabilitation sciences, it is speech-language pathology's heavy focus on the neuropsychological/cognitive processes of human communication that so well lend themselves to mobile application technology.  Indeed, I must admit mobile treatment applications have been a rather tantalizing notion ever since the iPad was released. Their allure is made all the more potent given the need for cost-effective treatment solutions for the tens of thousands of people living with chronic aphasia.


Clinicians and researchers are only beginning to develop an evidence base for tablets as treatment tools, though computer-based treatment in aphasia is nothing new. It is indeed critical to "...ensure their efficacy in treating aphasia" (Wilkins,.Kurland, Stokes, & Polly, 2013), but any lack of specific evidence does not mean mobile technology isn't currently useful in aphasia treatment.  It is important to note that speech-language pathologists use both aphasia-specific and non-aphasia specific tablet applications in treatment. In fact, much of the research being done on the potential for personalized home practice to augment aphasia rehabilitation are not with so-called aphasia-specific applications at all, but applications not specifically designed for speech or language rehabilitation (i.e., Mental Case, a notecard application primarily for high school and university students). Speech-language pathologists and researchers should and will continue the discussion of treatment efficacy vis--vis tablet technology. In the meantime, the question is not, which is the best app for treating aphasia, but, how can the principles of neuro- plasticity and evidence-based practice be applied to application design and application use?


It is not an unfair generalization that the current quality and availability of evidence-based, aphasia-specific applications is rather dismal. Aphasia-specific applications on the whole tend to be over-simplistic in design, in content, and in function. Most are based on repetition and imitation and do not integrate language comprehension and expression. In addition, a significant number are not adaptable to the individual and grossly underestimate a person's previous knowledge base. This deficient combination has resulted in a smorgasbord of exceptionally useless applications, none of which on their own provide any benefit for the person with aphasia.


Certainly not all aphasia-specific applications are useless? No, there are a few that stand out as reasonably useful, and they tend to share the same characteristics described below. But whether aphasia-specific or not, there is no application or computer program that can take the place of working with a good speech-language pathologist. In the study I alluded to earlier, the home practice programs were not aphasia-specific, and were "...carefully designed with the clients' needs and skills in mind"


So while there is not one particular application I will recommend, here are some good questions that a speech-language pathologist, coach, or person with aphasia should ask themselves when selecting an application:


1. Does the application allow for personalization of content? If not, is the content relevant?


2. Does the application rely too heavily on single-word naming tasks of concrete nouns (i.e., car, bus)?


3.  Are verbs targeted in any way?


4. Are the treatment tasks based too heavily on repetition and/or imitation, or does the app encourage generative communication?


5. Does the app capitalize on a person's current skills, motivations, and new skills they hope to gain?


6. What language area does the application purport to treat? Can all areas of language be targeted (spoken & written language, auditory comprehension, reading comprehension), or must these be purchased separately?


Contact us for information on how to select apps.


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April 30, 2014
"Finally, when finding words is hard, finding help is easy . . . with BCAT." Contact us to find out how you can become a person recovering from aphasia.
In this edition
This is Sharon Rennhack, the  chief  editor for the aphasiatoolbox newsletter.  
In this month's edition, we discuss ways that people with aphasia can help themselves. 
> Master  Clinician Bill Connors discusses the ways that people with aphasia can best help themselves.
> Bill discusses how to make  any exercise "truly therapeutic." 
>  Austin White  shows us what to look for in adult aphasia apps.
Share with us an app that you use and how you use it. We will select one entry as a winner!   

Sharon Rennhack

Chief Editor 
VIDEO:  Master Clinician Bill Connors discusses how  PWA  can help themselves 


Editor's Note:

Master Clinician Bill Connors  discusses  how people with aphasia can best help themselves.  


Video with Bill Connors, May 1, 2014
Video with Bill Connors, May 1, 2014


 Advice from Bill:  



Become a pilot of  your own recovery. 


Turn yourself into a person aggressively recovering from aphasia.



Seek out treatment and associates of kindred spirit.     


For information on our conversational cafes or for ideas and resources, contact us or 724-494-2534.  

FEATURE:  What is "truly therapeutic"? 


Editor's Note:

At a recent workshop, DL, an SLP from Florida, asked the question, "What are some ways a busy SLP can use to make activities truly therapeutic for a person with aphasia?"  



Bill's Response:


Key elements of the Brain Compatible Aphasia Treatment program offer techniques  to help ensure that a drill is therapeutic for a client;  here are 3 key ways to try to accomplish this:


1.    Make sure the client is working from his/her own memory and propositional thought. This means avoiding whenever possible imitation or using excessive external queuing.


2.      Be sure to thread work on cognitive skills throughout the speech/language activities.   Many treatment drills and practice activities can incorporate the cognitive underpinnings such as working memory, cognitive flexibility, and alternating attention.


3.    Try to make sure that the client is activating and switching between/among various mental processes involved in word recall and conversation.  


Some examples include:  activating sufficient semantic information to specify a specific word (lemma); or anchoring a lemma in order to phonologically encode the word (lexeme).


One example that may help clarify this would be the Lighting up the Lemma treatment protocol

at www.aphasiatoolbox.com


The goal of this activity is for the client is able to:   


a. activate the mental representation (lemma) of a lexical item;  

b. remember that item while he/she verifies it (anchoring the lemma);  

c. and then express the word in a selected modality (say, write or gesture it).   


TO refer a client or to join the aphasiatoolbox.com social therapeutic network, contact us at information@aphasiatoolbox.com or 724.494.2534


FEATURE:    Can Aphasia Apps help us?

Editor's Note:  

We received this email from a subscriber who wants to know if apps can help his wife.   


Q: "I am paying $70.00 a month for my wife to use software programs for aphasia.  We have also purchased some apps for her iPad.   Is it worth the money?" 

Bill's Response:


Our experience during 30+ years of aphasia practice tells us that software programs that utilize tired, tedious exercises from traditional treatment approaches fail to achieve the kind of results that people with aphasia are seeking.  The value of the software depends on whether the software is actually helping your wife to do the things she wants to wants to do again like: conversing with you; talking on the phone; sharing a joke; reading stories to her grandkids, etc.  Make sure that any drill or exercise is part of a rich, robust recovery program that has your wife doing the thinking in creative, generative ways.


The aphasiatoolbox.com software is unique because it ties in with our Brain Compatible Aphasia Treatment (BCAT) philosophy that is grounded in aphasia research.  BCAT takes optimal advantage of both neural plasticity and the person's previous knowledge base.  


Note:  Next month we'll talk about Aphasia Sight Reader,  the main app/application offered by Aphasia Toolbox.


If you  have a question or want to comment on a newsletter article,  you can contact us at: information @aphasiatoolbox.com.  Please use "Newsletter" in the subject line. 


Upcoming  Courses from Aphasiatoolbox


Master Clinician Bill Connors is offering these "can't miss" seminars. Learn how to use revolutionary techniques and tools to  truly exploit neuroplasticity.


Previous attendees have  said:


"The most informative and interactive course I ever attended on adult communication problems."  MS,  OH


"Finally I feel confident in treating aphasia."  Joan B.  SLP OH


Bill  is offering the following onsite  one day presentations in 2014, on  
Aphasia-Apraxia Therapy: Exploiting Neuroplasticity :


May 8, 2014,  Ottawa, Canada    
The Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists, Ottawa, Canada   
June 6-7, 2014, Lafayette, LA 
The Louisiana Speech-Language-Hearing Association Annual Convention  
June 21, 2014,  San Antonio, TX 
Visit  www.motivationsceu.com for more information and to register. 
These 1-day seminar will present innovative treatment protocols and technology-based tools that enhance clinical skills, assist in the integration of evidence and patient values into aphasia rehabilitation, and save clinician preparation time.
Techniques and tools that optimize exploitation of neuroplasticity to maximize aphasia recovery will be featured.  Participants will observe demonstrations of and be involved in aphasia and apraxia treatment including live telepractice sessions and video recordings that utilize the comprehensive Brain Compatible Aphasia Treatment Program.  The session will be highly interactive and will address the synergies between the treatment of adult and childhood speech and language disorders.    


For information on these courses, click here to contact us  or phone 724-494-2534.     
FEATURE:  Adult Aphasia App Sourcelist


Editor's Note:  

This list is a source list of apps  for adults with aphasia. Remember the key with using apps is to make sure that they are not tired, repetitive drills but are a truly therapeutic part of a rich, robust aphasia recovery program.   For help with that,  contact us.  


>  The  Tactus Therapy list includes over 200 apps including the Tactus apps as well as those from other providers. This new and free  edition was published January 2014.


> The Tavistock Trust for Aphasia website has information about software programs and apps for people with aphasia in the English language.


The Aphasia Center of Innovative Treatment, Inc | | bill@aphasiatoolbox.com | http://www.aphasiatoolbox.com
800 Vinial Street, B408
Pittsburgh, PA 15212

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