Stroke & Communication
Stroke often affects the areas of the brain that control language. This causes a language problem called aphasia. Aphasia impacts communication. It can make it difficult for a person to talk, understand words, read, write, or use numbers.
A weekly communication group is directed by a Speech-Language Pathologist – Marie Shuman, BA (Hons), MSc., R-SLP( C), #2541 – along with the support of volunteers (many of whom are pursuing a career in speech-language pathology).
One of our important programs, is called CAMPUS: Communication and Aphasia Mentorship Program for Undergraduate Students. VSRA has been providing intergenerational mentorship volunteer opportunities, in the Aphasia Communication Group, to local university students, for over a decade. Most of these students have gone on, to be accepted into graduate programs, in Speech Pathology and Audiology, all across Canada, become Speech-Language Pathologists (SLP), and are providing much needed assistive technology and services, to people who have difficulty with speaking, listening, reading and writing, following a stroke. Students often remark on how enriched their lives are, through interacting with our members, during the mentorship process, and the stroke survivors with aphasia, appreciate knowing that future professionals, will understand that it is their communication — not their intelligence — that has been affected by the stroke.
VSRA is able to provide skilled training time for student volunteers, from our SLP, and the opportunity for UVic volunteer students, to interact with stroke survivor members, who have aphasia, both more frequently and more confidently. We believe that this experience, will empower students, as they become proficient in clear, empathetic, and flexible conversations, and will inform future intergenerational, personal, and professional communications. The volunteer experience, provides students with an education, and experience, that they do not get in class, but will greatly help them apply for grad schools, and scholarships, followed by work as speech language pathologists across the country. Our current Speech-Language Pathologist, has recently increased the number of volunteers, and recruited 16+ UVic student volunteers, to the point where we now have one to one aphasia stroke survivors to student volunteers.
Most sessions begin with a warm-up exercise, followed by 1-2 group activities which vary each week. Some activities are focused on everyday tasks, while others are based on member requests/experiences. Previous activities have included a conversation-based card game, show and tell, poetry, word retrieval exercises, story sharing, targeted-practice board games and word-meaning activities. Feedback and ideas are highly encouraged. This group is for YOU!
Each member is provided with communication supports and strategies to enhance their experience. Participants are encouraged to talk as much as possible while they are in this highly supportive environment, and any form of communication is welcomed. Both one-on-one and group conversations take place, and the group is a very positive environment for people with aphasia, volunteers, and the SLP running the session.