June is National Aphasia Awareness Month -- Information and Technology Update at SCALE in Baltimore
Lingraphica offers sneak preview of all new AllTalk speech-generating device for people with aphasia during event in Baltimore highlighting National Aphasia Awareness Month
(NewMediaWire via WebWire)
Baltimore, MD, June 20, 2013 (NewMediaWire) - Encouraging people to learn more about aphasia, coupled with highlighting hope through technology via a sneak preview of Lingraphica’s all new AllTalk speech-generating device (SGD), was the focus of today’s event highlighting National Aphasia Awareness Month at Baltimore’s Snyder Center for Aphasia Life Enhancement (SCALE).
Aphasia is a speech disorder resulting from a stroke or other brain trauma that affects the ability to speak, write, or comprehend language. Each year more than 80,000 men and women join one million Americans living with aphasia. These numbers exceed Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, and muscular dystrophy, and the number of people living with aphasia may double by 2020 when there will be 107 million people in the U. S. 55 years or older, the ages when strokes are most prevalent.
Denise McCall, SCALE program director, noted that many people with aphasia can recover within a few months, but up to 60 percent still have language impairments more than six months after a stroke. Speech therapy, which may involve an individual completing exercises or performing tasks like reading, writing, following directions, and repeating what you hear, can help people with aphasia regain the ability to express themselves and have others understand them.
McCall suggests keeping the following points in mind when communicating with an individual with aphasia:
-- Be sure to distinguish between language and intelligence -- don’t make the assumption that people with aphasia are not as smart as they used to be.
-- Be aware that people with aphasia cannot use language to communicate what they know. In many instances, their thought processes are normal, but they can’t say what they are thinking.
Keith Sopher a SCALE member, shared his insight as a person living with aphasia.
“Living with aphasia is hard and easy,” he said, adding, “It is hard because I know, it but I can’t say it. Computers empower me to communicate more effectively.”
“It is important to talk to ME,” he said. “Slow down. Be patient. Then it’s really good.”
McCall said that SCALE offers services designed to decrease the social isolation experienced by individuals living with aphasia and their family members by providing a community of peers sharing similar goals and interests and trained professionals who support and guide members as they re-engage in life activities. A variety of communication groups and computer classes are offered in addition to hands-on, interactive groups such as art, photography, and gardening. Members have input regarding the types of classes offered, and select classes of interest to them.
“In our work at SCALE, we have found that using technology, including speech-generating devices and interactive apps, is a key supplement to standard language therapies and helps people with aphasia reconnect with family, friends, and the community,” McCall said.
Andrew Gomory, chief executive officer of Lingraphica, a company based in Princeton, N.J. that has been conducting research on aphasia and creating speech generating-devices for more than 23 years, previewed the new AllTalkTM, the company’s most versatile and customizable device for people with aphasia. The lightweight device features 4,400 graphic icons associated with 7,500 words and phrases that depict and enunciate objects, thoughts, needs, and emotions for patients to learn and communicate.
“The new AllTalk was designed for and with adults working to regain speech lost to a stroke,” Gomory said, “and AllTalk empowers people with aphasia to communicate anywhere, anytime and any way. The device has a new, easy user interface and it converts from a laptop with a full keyboard, to a tent for display, to a stand and to a tablet device.”
Gomory noted that AllTalk, which will be available later this summer, was designed under the guidance of a team of speech-language pathologists and that the company conducted significant usability testing with members of our Lingraphica Aphasia Users’ Group – each of whom is working to rebuild speech lost because of stroke.
John Gartner, one of the SCALE members who demonstrated the device, said,
“It’s easy. It’s new. I can do it myself. It helps me….stories and talk and stuff.”
To meet the needs of the users, the new device is fully customizable, adaptable to touchscreen or track-pad use, and equipped with integrated video calling. The AllTalk syncs easily with Lingraphica’s SmallTalk Aphasia apps and is completely backed by Lingraphica’s free technical support and training over the lifetime of the device. AllTalk medical devices also are covered by Medicare, the Veterans Administration, and many private insurance plans.
Founded in 1991 and based in Princeton, N. J., Lingraphica is a healthcare technology firm whose mission is to provide the technology, support and resources that offer hope for adults with aphasia and verbal apraxia who lost their ability to speak, write or read following a stroke or traumatic brain injury and empower them to improve their lives. For more information about Lingraphica products and services, call 888-APHASIA, or go to aphasia.com.
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