The Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) Department at the University of St Mark & St John is collaborating with Plymouth Community Healthcare to provide a ‘conversation group’ for people living with a communication disorder (aphasia).
Aphasia is an acquired language disorder and it is estimated that there are currently 250,000 people in the UK living with this condition, with 20,000 new cases occurring each year. Having aphasia means that a person may have difficulty understanding or expressing themselves verbally, as well as having possible difficulties in reading, writing or both. Common causes include stroke, head injury, and brain tumours. Intellectual ability is not affected.
People with aphasia have been referred to this new collaborative venture as part of their journey adjusting to a new life with aphasia. Gill Main (Speech and Language Therapist, Plymouth Community Healthcare) said: “The aim of this group has been to re-build the confidence that people often lose when their communication has been affected by aphasia”. Emily Burtenshaw, Senior Lecturer and speech and language therapist, said “I am very excited about this new collaboration between Plymouth Community Healthcare and Marjon. This is the first time we have provided a joint service for people with this type of communication disorder. The weekly meetings provide a much valued placement opportunity for our year 2 speech and language therapy students”.
Ayesha Edwards, a year 2 student, said: “This is an extremely useful and vital part of practical experience towards becoming a qualified Speech and Language Therapist. I am enjoying working with the group and am really pleased with their progress”.
The group members are keen to promote awareness of aphasia amongst the general public. Having aphasia can mean that even simple tasks, like catching a bus, can be difficult. One of the group, Kevin, said: “I was in the back…four kids..they were giving me a hard time and saying words about me –I was upset. If I had speech, I would..talk to them..and explain” Another group member, Paul, added: “I know what I want to say, but it is getting it out. It’s in the back of my brain…”.
Gill Main said: “We hope to build on the success of this first collaborative project with Marjon, and have more groups running on a permanent basis. The next step is to set up a ‘drop-in’ café at Mt Gould, where people with aphasia can meet regularly, as they choose”.
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