The Intensive Aphasia Program at North Memorial Medical Center is similar to the handful of other intense aphasia programs being offered in various parts of the USA and Europe. However, it is the first of its kind in the region. A great deal of research over the last few years has begun to uncover the fact that there is benefit to ongoing speech-language treatment during the “chronic” stages of aphasia. It has been shown that intensive treatment of an individual even years after his or her stroke can result in measurable gains. Furthermore, stroke survivors and their families report that such intensive therapy results in improvements to the survivors’ ability to communicate at home and in daily life. At North Memorial Medical Center, the Stroke Center has responded to this research by providing effective intensive treatment. Literature suggests that while language recovery during the early stages post onset of the stroke is largely due to neurologic recovery, improved language skills in the chronic stages may be due to new learning and may be enhanced by implementing methods from the “Constraint Induced Therapy” literature. Participants in this program have ranged from approximately six months post stroke to ten years post stroke. Our preliminary data indicate an average 11% improvement in the language skills of participants, as measured by the Western Aphasia Battery. We are also building an outcome database with a number of other formal and informal measures.

The Intensive Aphasia Program at North Memorial Medical Center is a 3-week-long program. Prior to treatment, each member receives a comprehensive evaluation of his/her communication skills. Formal tests are reviewed with the patient, information regarding computer skills and patient preferences are discussed and an individual plan of care is created. Treatment days include one hour of one-on-one therapy with a speech pathologist. An hour of computer-based treatment provides patients with the opportunity for independent language skill building, while also learning the fundamentals of using a computer. This aspect of our program has permitted participants to continue with language skill building at home aftr the conclusion of the program, using their own home computer. A 30 minute structured social time affords participants an opportunity to engage in relaxed, free-form communication with other stroke survivors. This time can also serve as a bit of a rest for those participants who feel fatigued from the previous two-hour stretch of therapy. Finally, during a one-hour group therapy session, participants have the opportunity to practice language skills in a natural conversational setting using structured tasks, supervised by one or more speech pathologists. North Memorial Medical Center will bill the patient’s insurance company. However, it is the patient’s responsibility to determine in advance whether his or her policy will cover the cost of the program. If insurance does not cover the cost, the patient will be billed.

For additional information, or to obtain an application form and information packet, please contact Gail Lommen at the Stroke Center at North Memorial Medical Center (763) 520-5900.