Damico of Aphasia Center speaks to Rotarians

By: Jeannine LeJeune
CROWLEY – When people like Van Landry and Rose Shuff had strokes several years ago, returning to some sort of normalcy could have just been a hopeful dream.

But after therapy and now the Aphasia Center of Acadiana, Inc., those with aphasia have options to help them return to their old lives.

Aphasia is an impairment of language ability. This class of language disorder ranges from having difficulty remembering words to being completely unable to speak, read or write.

Aphasia disorders usually develop quickly as a result of head injury or stroke, but can develop slowly from a brain tumor, infection, or dementia, or can be a learning disability such as dysnomia.

Dr. Jack Damico, CCC-SLP, spoke to the Crowley Rotary Club at Tuesday’s meeting. Damico explained what the Aphasia Center of Acadiana, Inc. is and how it helps the Acadiana area with living and dealing with aphasia and other neurogenic communicative disorders.

The Aphasia Center of Acadiana, Inc. was established in 2009 and incorporated 2010. It is a nonprofit and nonsectarian corporation and is currently housed and collaborated with the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Department of Communicative Disorders.

“This is a new organization,” he said. “And we wanted to bring it to your attention today the fact that this center does exist and we are more than willing to help individuals who have difficulty.”

The Aphasia Center of Acadiana, Inc. currently provides a variety of services including informational counseling for individuals with a neurogenic communicative disorder and his/her family (counseling with professional SLP and an individual with aphasia), monthly aphasia support groups, informational outreach regarding various neurogenic communicative disorders, therapy services for communicative impairments and assistance with referrals for other services not yet available at the Aphasia Center of Acadiana, Inc.

Shuff started the center, according to Damico. Shuff currently serves as executive director.

Shuff was also in attendance for the meeting, giving background to what led to the center’s creation by explaining the trials and tribulations of living life after suffering a stroke.

Landry, meanwhile, serves on the Professional Advisory Committee.

“One of the things you notice if you have dealt with people with communication disorders due to strokes, aphasia or any of the others, is the person is changed to some extent,” said Damico. “Their communication is affected, their behavior is affected and there are changes in their social aspects and emotional aspects, but there are things that can be done to assist these people to get back some of those aspects.

“I think both Rose and Van are good examples of how these things work. Because of their efforts, this is something that’s unique, that will help people and we want to make you aware of it.”

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