Always Aware: June is Aphasia Awareness Month

Always aware: Aphasia

About one in 240 people suffer from aphasia in the United States.

June is Aphasia Awareness Month.

Aphasia is usually caused by a stroke, but can also be caused by other types of head injuries, aneurisms or brain tumors. It can cause patients to forget even the smallest things.

"The left side of your brain is where your language center is, so if you have a stroke somewhere around that side of the brain you'll most likely have Aphasia," said speech therapist Jessica Elliot with St. Luke's University Health Network.

"I couldn't remember anything, but yet my mind was so sharp," said 66 year old Mary Doncevic, who was diagnosed with aphasia after she had a stoke in 2013.

Aphasia can effect a patient's speaking, listening, reading and writing skills. Patients can try to relearn many of their lost skills by working with a speech therapist.

"I can kinda pick where they're having trouble and where their strong points are and use the strong points to get the deficits up a little stronger," said Elliot.

Mary and her family try to use laughter to cope with the daily struggles of dealing with aphasia.

"She's a very positive person and I think that's really been a big asset for her and the family because she laughs when she tries to express herself and she might call me the dog's name and the dog she might call my name," said Mary's husband Stephen Doncevic.

Aphasia can also be a warning sign of a stroke.

"If you notice your speech is a little funny, that usually is a symptom before you have a stroke," said Elliot.

The Doncevics are trying to live life to the fullest. They just returned from a trip to Spain.

"It certainly is a big problem for people and it effects families greatly, but if you take a positive attitude and you can laugh a little at the same time with the speech, I think that goes a long way," said Stephen.

"I just want people to know they can do it," added Mary.

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