An Article By Mimi Block, MS, CCC-SLP

Posted in Advance Magazine, Vol. 20 • Issue 22 • Page 10  on  November 3, 2010

The field of speech-language pathology has known for some time that outcomes are improved for adults with chronic aphasia when therapy is intensive, typically defined in the research as nine or more hours per week. The University of Michigan Aphasia Program (UMAP) creates an environment of success for this patient population with a combination of individual and group therapy delivered on an intensive schedule targeting multimodal forms of communication that include training with assistive software, along with education and support for caregivers.

Beginning in January 2011, UMAP will build on its clinical experience, client feedback, and what the research says to maximize the therapeutic experience for clients and their families. Sessions will coincide with each month of the year, and clients can opt for additional weeks at any time.

A full-time client receives 25 hours of speech-language therapy each week. Music and art therapy, caregiver education seminars and support group, and social-recreational activities complete the weekly package of 30 hours of structured activities.

Each client is assigned to a team of speech-language pathologists. The client’s primary clinician coordinates the goals and serves as the point person for the family and client regarding questions, goals and progress.

Each day clients receive two hours of individual therapy designed to target their specific goals, which are developed from baseline testing and initial conversations with the client and family. As appropriate, goals target all areas of communication: listening, speaking, reading, writing, memory, cognition, and use of gestures.

Group therapy is an important component of the UMAP therapy regimen. As speech-language pathologists, we are well aware of the dynamic nature of communication. Clients receive two hours of group therapy daily to support the use of newly learned behaviors targeted during individual therapy into more naturalistic contexts.

This supportive context for communication is vitally important. Our client may be the only person in his or her community with aphasia. Re-learning communication skills in an environment with others who have aphasia helps reduce some of the stress and increases hope. Our clients push each other to try new ways of communicating, and they reinforce one another’s successes. The exuberance in the group when someone accomplishes a communicative task is uplifting for all involved! 

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