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NEW HORIZON OUTCOMES: Christine Huggins  - Aphasia/ Apraxia


Dateline:  Ohio





Christine is 27 years old, and graduated cum laude from Dartmouth College. She then earned her law degree with distinction from The University of Iowa College of Law. Christine passed the Ohio Bar and clerked for the U.S. bankruptcy court in Cleveland. In 2011, Christine had a massive stroke resulting in a severe aphasia and apraxia.

Work with Aphasiatoolbox.com:

Christine started working with Bill Connors on December, 2011; their initial session was a face to face session at Christine's home. The majority of treatment sessions utilized Telepractice as Bill and Christine were able to work together over the Internet. She attended the Aphasiatoolbox intensive weekend in Pittsburgh in 2012.

Says Christine, "I'm so thankful that I met Bill; we practiced online every week." (Aphasiatoolbox Newsletter, August, 2013 LINK). Bill comments, "Through her hard work and determination, Christine is a great example of how far we have come in our ability to turn young people with aphasia into people recovering from Aphasia in order to maximize their recovery."


Christine made impressive improvement in her communication problems. not only in her work with aphasia toolbox, but daily coaching with her mother as well as working with so many other supportive people She is a feature columnist for the Aphasiatoolbox newsletter and has presented with Bill online at a number of venues including state conferences.

Since beginning with the aphasiatoolbox program, Christine has helped to create the Aphasia Recovery Connection (ARC), a Facebook page devoted to people with aphasia, friends and families. Christine is the President of ARC. She leads small group motivational sessions, is the ARC ooVoo leader, built its website, and is currently working on a virtual aphasia project.

Christine has been appointed by Governor John Kasich to the Governor's Council on People with Disabilities for a three year term ending in 2016.

If you are a young person with aphasia  and  are focused on returning to work or college studies,  contact us for a  FREE  consultation and evaluation. 
Paul Berger   - Aphasia/ Apraxia/Dysarthria 

Dateline:  VA


Paul Berger graduated with a B.A. from Drexel University. He continued his studies earning an M.A. at the New School in New York City, then an M.B.A. at Marymount University in Arlington, Virginia. Paul Berger had a stroke from a ruptured aneurysm when he was 36 years old, resulting in a very severe aphasia, apraxia, dysarthria and right-sided paralysis.

While Paul's stroke was 28 years ago, he continues working on his recovery.

Work with Aphasiatoolbox.com:

Bill Connors and Paul first met at a National Aphasia Association (NAA) Convention in Boston. Paul started working with Bill in December 2008. Paul and Bill now share a consulting relationship. During his program at aphasiatoolbox, Paul has made tremendous strides in improving his ability to speak, type and read, so much so that he has been able to accomplish much in the world of stroke recovery. Through their work together, Paul has helped Bill enhance the part of the Brain Compatible Aphasia Treatment program that addresses phonological aphasia.


Paul is a facilitator of an online conversation caf´┐Ż at aphasiatoolbox and has co-presented with Bill at numerous presentations internationally including: speech pathology convention, NAA conferences, the US Capitol Building, and consumer workshops. In addition to his presentations with Bill, Paul has made over 45 presentations, to audiences of all sizes, from small groups to 800 grads and family members during university graduation programs, to consumers, professionals, business and government officials. In October 2014, Paul and his wife Stephanie will be the co-hosts for the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Stroke Comeback Center.

He is and has been a member of these groups: the National Association of Retired Federal Employees, Rotary International, Toastmasters International, and three stroke survivor support groups, including leading a conversational cafe for aphasiatoolbox.com.

Together, Paul and his wife Stephanie manage Positive Power Publishing. Paul has written six books/e-books, including his well-known book - How To Conquer The World With One Hand ... And An Attitude.

See Paul's website www.strokesurvivor.com.

Note:  We've included here, with Paul's permission,  two videos which show  his Pre - and Post - treatments. 

Pre - treatment  video of Paul Berger   Jan  2009
PRE - Treatment video of Paul Berger   Jan 2009.

POST  - Treatment video of  Paul Berger June 2014
POST - Treatment video of Paul Berger June 2014

For a  FREE  consultation and evaluation, and to learn how to continue to recover even many years after a stroke,  contact us.


Dr. Roy Ivy,  Alexia 


 Dateline:  Texas


Dr. Roy Ivy graduated  medical school   from the University of Texas At Galveston / Medical Branch in 1968,  His residency was at  John P Smith Hospital (Fort Worth) and  at William Beaumont Army Medical Center  (Fort Bliss in El Paso, TX).  Roy  was  a highly-praised doctor working in Gynecology/Obstetrics, when a stroke  in 2009 left him unable to read (acquired alexia) accurately and quickly enough to see patients. Months of speech/language therapy and personal effort had failed to help him accomplish his goal.  He was told that he had visual field cut and may never read effectively again.   Dr. Roy was determined to serve his patents again.  


Work with 


Roy and his wife Charlotte started working with Bill Connors in  early 2009.  


Says Bill:    "After an online consultation, the Ivy's and I created a plan, incorporating our Pure Alexia Treatment Protocol, AphasiaPhonics Program and extensive use of the Aphasia Sight Reader practice software. Charlotte trained to become Roy's practice coach. Taking advantage of neuroplasticity and a reconnectionist rehabilitation approach, we made the program highly individualized and multifaceted."  Eventually, we came to realize that, while he may have had visual field cut, he had visual neglect and inattention which responded very well to the alexia/agraphia practice part of Brain Compatible Aphasia Treatment allowing him to read medical charts again.


Roy's wife Charlotte says:   "Your program sure gave us the tools he needed for recovery! "  


Roy is back to work doing what he loves;  he is currently  working four days a week at his GYN practice and is playing a lot of golf!    

Contact us  for a FREE consultation in order to apply the techniques used to recover your reading and writing.   

ALTERNATIVE APHASIA TREATMENT: Benefits of Music and Singing in Aphasia Recovery


Editor's Note: 

I was a choral singer before my stroke, and realized that I had missed that aspect of my life.   As part of my whole person recovery program, I recently joined a choral group in my area. This group is not aphasia-specific, but while researching this article, I did find that the number of aphasia choirs are increasing. 


See my article on the benefits of music and singing in aphasia recovery.


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 July 31, 2014
"When it comes to aphasia recovery.... THINK BIG, we at aphasiatoolbox do." The clients featured in this edition did and still do.  If you are dissatisfied with your outcome so far Contact us .
SPECIAL EDITION - Outcomes that matter
This is Sharon Rennhack, the  chief  editor for the aphasiatoolbox newsletter.  
This month we are offering a special focus on "outcomes that matter".
How does a  person with aphasia become a person
recovering or recovered from aphasia?  Is it luck?  Is it determination?  
We know that aphasia is different for each person.   In this edition, we look at some factors that may  help a person with aphasia and apraxia increase outcome success. 
>  In his video, Master Clinician Bill Connors discusses factors for  the outcomes that YOU want;
>  I look at what researchers and clinicians say about outcomes. 
>  Clients discuss their outcomes.
The main message we want to leave with you is one of HOPE. Please share this edition with a person with aphasia and apraxia.


Sharon Rennhack

Chief Editor 
VIDEO:  Master Clinician Bill Connors discusses Outcomes that truly  matter


Editor's Note:

In this video, Master Clinician Bill Connors discusses outcomes that truly matter  in aphasia therapy. 


The focus in all therapy is on what the client wants to achieve. 


Outcomes that truly matter  7 31 14
Outcomes that truly matter 7 31 14


If you have questions about this video or want to set up a FREE consultation or evaluation, please contact us or  call  us at 724-494-2534.  

OUTCOMES: What Researchers and Clinicians tell us


Editor's Note: 

What outcomes do you want for your aphasia and/or apraxia?   What quality of life do you have and/or want?


In his video (in this edition), Bill Connors discusses what people with  aphasia  and apraxia want and don't want.  


And, in her 2011 study - "What people with aphasia want: Their goals according to the ICF",  Professor Linda Worrall and her colleagues uncovered "what people with aphasia wanted during the rehabilitation process, as well as their concerns and priorities at each stage." [1]  


Nine broad categories of goals were identified. In summary, people with aphasia wanted:


> to return to their pre-stroke life and to communicate not only their basic needs but also their opinions;

> information about aphasia, stroke, and available services;

> more speech therapy;

> greater autonomy;

> dignity and respect;

> engagement in social, leisure, and work activities;

> to regain their physical health;

> to help others.


In other words,  they want to be NORMAL.  That point should guide  the rehabilitation process for people with aphasia.


How does a person with aphasia and his/her family and/or  caregivers strive for normalcy?


Here are some ways that people with aphasia can  begin to feel that they're are in charge after stroke or traumatic brain injury.


Drive your therapy!


One approach is the "Life Participation Approach to Aphasia". The ASHA website [2]  describes the "life participation approach to aphasia" (LPAA) has a "consumer-driven service-delivery approach that supports individuals with aphasia and others affected by it in achieving their immediate and longer term life goals". 


LPAA focuses on re-engagement in life, beginning with initial assessment and intervention, and continuing, after hospital discharge, until the consumer no longer elects to have communication support. The person with aphasia and family/caregivers are at the center of all decision making. Click here for more information.  


The Stroke Comeback Center  [3] in Virginia is one aphasia center that uses LPAA.


Darleen Williamson is the founder of the center, now celebrating its 10th year of "helping stroke survivors, people with aphasia, and their families findthe ongoing speech-language treatment they need after their insurance runs out". The center offers a "menu" of 38 groups based around language, motor speech and apraxia, and cognitive needs. The center also has several activity groups-such as community outings, cooking and technology-and has even commandeered the adjacent dance school studio to start fitness groups that have been wildly popular."


Says Darlene: 


"Our outcomes show that people with aphasia continue to improve indefinitely, despite what the medical systems will tell you  . . .  I think they see the recovery as very finite, but we know differently, and I want to help dispel that myth. Every stroke survivor deserves a Stroke Comeback Center."


Practice everyday intensively!


Another Center that uses LPAA but adds a twist is the Austin Speech Labs in Austin, TX  [4].  Co-founders Shilpa Shamapant and  Shelley Adair developed an intensive "boot camp" system for their clients. [4]  The boot camp is eight weeks long, with clients receiving group services for approximately three hours a day, Monday through Friday.


Per the ASHA Leader article:


With such an intense period of treatment, the goal is for the clients to attain some form of communication. Clients can repeat boot camp until this happens-at the cost of $10 per hour. Upon graduation, clients can enroll in further enriched classes like reading, writing, public speaking and cognitive therapy."


Adair says:  "When I first started working in the field, we gave everyone a year. If they didn't recover by then, that was it-that was as good as it was going to get. But now we are seeing more people in their 20s, 30s and 40s and they aren't OK with that. They want to continue the process and keep going. Now we can let them do that."


It's been a long, but crucial journey since the center's opening in 2008,  but their approach appears to be working.  Shamapant talks of one client who started with them in 2009 and was not even speaking. Now he is verbal, employed part-time and living independently. The feeling of seeing him gain such independence, she says, is incredible."


As aphasia research [5] shows, and the co-founders of Austin Speech Labs have found, intensive practice helps PWA. Sadly though, not every PWA can afford the longer Intensive programs, which offer 6 hours daily/5 days for up to 4 to 6 weeks. The cost differential  between the Austin Speech Labs group program and  the typical Intensive program is not something that is in the range that most PWA can afford,  costing up to $14 to $30 thousand per 6 week session.  Given the length of time recovery may take, what is needed is an ongoing, intensive program that is affordable.  


Engage in Whole Person Recovery!


The Aphasia Center of Innovative Treatment and aphasiatoolbox.com  [6 ]strongly believe  in  what we call Whole Person Recovery for people with aphasia. Components of Whole person recovery include spirituality, companionship, engaging with activities that you like, etc. 


Exercise [7] is also a key component of Whole person recovery. It's been shown that  brain plasticity increases with exercise, enhancing neurogenesis, blood flow, and neuronal resistance to injury, specifically in the hippocampus. Other benefits - looking good, feeling strong and having a positive attitude, the attributes of self-esteem, are all benefits of a regular exercise regime.


Keep Hope alive! 


And, as we have seen from the recent research from Ms. Bright [8],  Hope is a potent motivator in Aphasia Recovery



MOVING BEYOND OUTCOMES: Sharon Rennhack - Semantics/Cognition


 Dateline:  Florida



Sharon graduated from Queens College (City University of New York), with a BA and an MLS. She was a special librarian, researcher and writer, with over 30 years of experience in such industries as Finance, Advertising/Marketing, Management, and News.

Sharon had a stroke in 2010 with aphasia deficits relating to speech, cognition, working memory, semantics and writing. She had a second stroke in 2013.

Work with Aphasiatoolbox.com:

During her therapy, Sharon worked with Bill Connors and the staff of Aphasiatoolbox for a total of one and a half years.

She worked with one other SLP before working with Bill. She realizes now - in hindsight, that there is a huge difference between "traditional aphasia therapy" and "neuroplastic aphasia therapy". Traditional therapy is based on imitation while neuroplastic therapy - that is - Aphasiatoolbox /Brain Compatible Aphasia Treatment", requires the client to use her own frontal lobes and work aggressively toward recovery. She joined the aphasiatoolbox.com staff on October, 2012.

Sharon says: "I'm so thankful for finding Aphasiatoolbox and Bill. I don't know what my outcome might have been if I had listened to my neurologist who told my family that I would not get any better after my first stroke."


Sharon facilitates online support and conversation groups, supervised the aphasiatoolbox.com exhibit table at the 2014 ASHA convention, regularly presents at aphasiatoolbox workshops, and is the first Certified Aphasiatoolbox Practice Coach.

And, she is the editor of the aphasiatoolbox online newsletter. Here are her own her words.

I am a stroke/aphasia survivor. I define myself not as a "Person with Aphasia", but as a "Person Recovered from Aphasia".

Yes, I've recovered well! There are, however, certain things that take me much longer to accomplish now compared to before my strokes. One such task is my writing. I'm not able to write as fast as earlier, but - considering that I had lost my ability to write, I'll accept that!

Another "problem" is post-stroke fatigue ; I now realize that I'm not able to plow thru my day like before . I consider my fatigue as a warning sign.

I think my strokes provided to me insights into aphasia,and those insights help me as I work as a practice coach.  In summary, my research and writing background AND aphasia awareness are put to good use at aphasia toolbox!

If you know in your heart that you can continue to progress  and want a FREE consultation,  contact us .

Quote of the Month -  Music



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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