FLAGLER COLLEGE, ST AUGUSTINE, FL (Interview with Tom Broussard, Stroke Educator and Aphasia Awareness Advocate on National Aphasia Awareness Month. Austin and Lauren, both Flagler College student journalists, conducted an interview about Tom’s experience with stroke and aphasia, and creating a short video regarding the Aim High for Aphasia awareness campaign, 11:00 AM to Noon, Thursday, June 13, 2019).
It was a great interview! They had lots of questions about the experience of a stroke itself plus the process by which I got better, given that I had lost so many neurons (brain cells) that would never be replaced. They learned a lot about dendrites (branches), synapses (leafs), and experience-dependent neural plasticity!
I asked the journalists if they had ever heard about plasticity. They said, no. Then I asked if they knew about photosynthesis. They said, of course, yes. I told them that photosynthesis and plasticity are scientific cousins: photosynthesis converts light into green leafs; plasticity converts thought and action into neural (brain) matter.
They asked, what was the most important part of what is needed to improve aphasia awareness nationwide?
Number one is information. Only 8.8% of the country are “aphasia aware” of aphasia. There are more people with aphasia than Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy yet hardly anyone has ever heard of it before. Sadly, the health community and especially hospitals do not provide any information on their website about aphasia. This needs to change to move the needle of awareness. Providing aphasia information to 100’s or 1000’s of hospitals’ websites would make a HUGE difference in terms of aphasia information for the wider public. The aphasia community needs to find some hospital sponsors at the top of the chain.
Number two is resources. About 25%-40% of people with a stroke acquire aphasia but there are no PSA’s for aphasia. I see PSA announcements every night about stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or cerebral palsy. A regular set of nationwide PSA’s about aphasia would move the needle almost overnight! The aphasia community needs to find some big business sponsors with a latent interest is helping the wider public learn more about aphasia. The time is now!
Signed: Johnny Appleseed of Aphasia Awareness.