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Conference Will Explore Alternative Aphasia Treatments

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August 9, 2006

EVANSTON, Ill. --- New and alternative treatments for aphasia -- a disorder that causes people to lose their ability to understand written and spoken language -- will be discussed at a major conference Sept. 15-17 at the Hilton Hotel in Northbrook.

Aphasia is an impairment of language, usually following a stroke. Most sufferers retain their intelligence, memory and other functions and are often mistaken for people with psychological disorders. An estimated 1 million people in the United States suffer from the disorder, more than Parkinson's disease, cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy combined.

Cynthia Thompson, director of the Aphasia and Neurolinguistics Lab at Northwestern University, will address the Midwest Regional Aphasia Conference, as will experts in clinical psychology, alternative medicine and acupuncture, and vocational rehabilitation.

Thompson, professor of communication sciences and disorders, will discuss new research on how the brain recovers from injury and how complex language forms are used to treat the disorder. “It was thought that the adult brain had little ability to recover, but now we know that undamaged parts of the brain can be recruited to support language,” Thompson said.

A goal of the conference is to raise public awareness of aphasia by providing information about advances in research and resources available to victims and caregivers, said Paulette Westney, an organizer of the conference and member of the aphasia support group that meets at Northwestern University.

The conference hosted by Northwestern University is open to aphasia sufferers, their caregivers and health care providers. The registration fee is $90. A limited number of “scholarships” is available to aphasia sufferers and university/college students.

For registration information, contact Janet O'Connor at (847) 467-7591.