By Sandi Deranek

I wanted to share my mother’s experience with you as she is not able to speak but a few words and unable to write. She sustained a stroke in 2005 that left her with aphasia and right sided weakness in her leg and her hand. After her hospitalization she spent her “100” days in a rehab center for speech, physical therapy and occupational therapy. She was released home with a 24 hour caregiver and continued to receive speech, p.t. and o.t. on an outpatient basis. However, she never regained her speech and became trapped in her own mind. Her mind was playing all the appropriate words and sentences but she could only say three or four words. It has been a nightmare at times for her and for her family trying to understand her wants and needs.

The speech therapists at the rehab center were inadequate. She gained some ground during outpatient therapy but when the speech therapist was changed, she lost ground. She spent two months trying to master the Lingraphica augmentative device and was not successful. Her mind remained sharp and she gained semi independence without a caregiver for several months at the end of 2005 but sustained a subdural hematoma resulting in two cranial surgeries. Currently she is in long term care skilled nursing while she recovers.

I would like to stress to anyone who experiences or ends up with aphasia to be sure the qualifications of speech therapists are confirmed and researched to find the best possible professional. Had my mother the benefit of such a professional, I believe she would have regained most of her ability to speak. But when faced with choosing skilled nursing facilities for rehabilitation, you are at the mercy of the discharge planners in the hospital rushing you to find a facility, the health system we are so “blessed” with that makes it so difficult to understand the ins and outs of finding such a facility and understanding exactly what the needs of your loved one may be.

Ask questions; ask questions and more questions of the doctors involved who are involved in the discharge and research as much as you can. Time is so important and while I realize that an individual can recover years after a stroke or brain trauma, it takes the right and best therapists to bring the individual to their full potential.