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picturing aphasia

"Picturing Aphasia is a compelling documentary film... remarkable in its ability to bring the viewer incredibly close to the authentic experience of communication loss."

Martha Taylor Sarno, MA, MD (hon) BC-NCD
Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine
NYU School of Medicine

Director, Speech-Language Pathology Department
Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine
NYU Hospitals center

        An estimated one million people in the United States have aphasia, but most people have never heard of it. Aphasia is a communication condition caused by damage to the language areas of the brain. This damage can come from a traumatic brain injury or a stroke. A stroke or “brain attack” occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interupted. It is typically older people that have strokes but that is not always the case and anyone could suffer a brain injury from an accident. There is no cure for aphasia but there is rehabilitation.
        Every person’s brain is unique, and so are the language disabilities a person could develop from damage. There are many defined types of aphasia such as Broca’s or Wernicke’s but people rarely fit neatly into these categories. Aphasia can affect both comprehension and production of spoken and written language. One could have ears that function normally but one’s brain can no longer process the sounds of speech. One could be capable of producing vocal sounds but not be able to speak words or form sentences. Every person with aphasia has a different level of comprehension and production. One may be able to comprehend language perfectly but not be able to produce it or vice versa. Aphasia does not affect a persons intelligence in any way. Their brain function has not been altered beyond their language ability.
        Picturing Aphasia is designed to function both as a way to raise awareness and understanding for aphasia and as a therapeutic device for people with aphasia. The idea was to give each person in the interview a forum to communicate with people who have aphasia and people who do not. It is an experiment in communication. Visual symbols are by no means a universal form of communication. The drawings created to interpret each persons statements were designed to help bridge the gap between hearing, seeing, and comprehending. The images are to act as an aid in the understanding of the spoken language.
        The goal of Picturing Aphasia is to allow people who have just developed aphasia an opportunity to understand that rehabilitation is not only possible but likely.

All images and content © Jeremy M McWreath 2003-2010
email Mores McWreath: moresmc@aphasia.tv