"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