Local News

Local Program Helping Aphasia Patients Find Their Voice

Posted July 1, 2003 11:44 a.m. EDT

— We all know how it feels to have a word on the tip of our tongue but be unable to say it.

For more than 1 million Americans who have aphasia, every word is like that.

A new program in the Triangle is helping people manage the disorder.

Ray Camp said he has spent years of his life teaching the art of public speaking, but two years ago, a stroke robbed him of his speech. Now he has aphasia, which doctors define as communication impairment caused by damage to the brain.

"It's been really tough. He has done amazingly well with it," said his wife Carolyn.

Carolyn Camp also gave credit to the

Triangle Aphasia Project

, a new group for people with aphasia.

Speech pathologist Maura English Silverman compares aphasia to visiting a country where you do not speak the language.

"Still having all the knowledge and memories and everything you have ever known, but not being able to have access to the words," she said.

Others in the group have suffered a stroke, multiple sclerosis or brain trauma. They said they are part of the group to learn how to communicate better and avoid being isolated by aphasia.

Many said activities like book clubs and reading the newspaper help them.

Camp said that while the group helped him focus on his life, aphasia is still frustrating.

"It never comes out when I want it to come out,"said Camp, who is making progress.

There is currently no cure for aphasia, but the Triangle Aphasia Project works with families one-on-one to help them find resources. There is not a limit on how long a patient can participate and the help is available at little or no cost.