Using words as both diagnosis and cure

Just as movement needs to be relearned in some cases of stroke, other people need to find a way to recover speech and language.

Researchers from New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center have developed a metric to predict stroke recovery of language based on extent of early impairment. The researchers, led by Ronald Lazar, Ph.D.,
tested patients’ language function one to three days after the stroke,
and again three months later. Using their test scores immediately
following stroke, the researchers could roughly predict how the patient
would score after 90 days. Most patients with mild to moderate aphasia,
or language impairment, who received language therapy were about 70
percent improved when they were tested for the second time.

In the second, not-yet-published study, Swathi Kiran, Ph.D., of Boston University, assessed language recovery of bilingual stroke patients.
She determined that when patients practiced the language in which they
were less fluent, their improvement was greater in both languages than
when they practiced the language with which they were more familiar. If
patients go digging for information, connections in the brain are
strengthened.

The Dana Guide to Brain Health article “Trouble with Speech and Language” offers more information on language and brain function. You can also read a more general essay on “Speech, Language, and Reading.”

–Johanna Goldberg

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