Sunday, July 1, 2007

Aphasia Sufferer's Book Club

The website of the National Aphasia Association defines the condition as: "Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia is always due to injury to the brain-most commonly from a stroke, particularly in older individuals.But brain injuries resulting in aphasia may also arise from head trauma, from brain tumors, or from infections." Victims of the disorder often lose their ability to enjoy various forms of reading that they may have once enjoyed. Book clubs for victims of the disease have been formed in several areas throughout the country.

One such book club has been founded at the Gesinger South Rehabilitation Center in Central Pennsylvania. Several types of the disorder exists and not everyone who gains the condition through a stroke will have difficulty reading.

According to Robin Petrus, the facilitator of the book club, the person with the condition retains the same personality, but difficulties expressing themselves result in ostracism. A patient suffering from the condition may hear a word and know what the word means but will not be able to make the same conclusion if it appears on the printed page.

The goal of the program is to restore the ability of the participants to read and understand a complete sentences and then to string them together into complete stroy. Petrus conceived the idea after hearing of a similar program that obtained good results in California. "I've had several patients who really enjoyed reading before their stroke and missed it a loft. So I felt it would be a good oppopurtunity for people with similar interestest to come together. The purpose of the group," Petrus stated, "Is to help people who have enjoyed reading before having aphasia to enjoy a good book again. It's therapeutic by nature."

Participants in the program not only receive a prepare guide to help them study the material and if the book on tape to help them along. According to Barbara Pizzoli, a resident of Atlas, the book club produced immediate results for her. Another participant had her ability to read and enjoy suspenseful mysteries restored. Debra Horn found it difficult to pay attention to what she read after suffering from a stroke in 1998.

In addition to restoring the ability to read and enjoy books, the program also brings together people who suffer from a similar condition. For many of them, who have difficulty getting around, it is one of the few opportunities they get to meet and interact with other people. Petrus said, "That's the key. I want this book club to help people do something they always enjoyed doing. We don't emphasize the disability. We emphasize their ability."