Escape from an Isolated World; Speech Experts on Tyneside Are Striving to Help People with Aphasia Talk Again. Health Reporter JANE PICKEN Finds out about the Charity Supporting Their Work

Article excerpt

Byline: Health Reporter JANE PICKEN

IT'S a brain condition which can have devastating consequences for the estimated 58,000 North East people who have it.

Yet, according to experts, few of us know what Aphasia is, even though it can leave patients with crippling communication problems or unable to speak at all.

If you ask someone with Aphasia to give you their telephone number, they might know the individual numbers but are likely to get them in the wrong sequence.

The condition often occurs after a stroke or brain injury, and severely affects the ability to speak, read or write.

And it can take months of therapy to regain basic communication skills.

But now the North East is one of the first areas in the UK to establish a centre designed to help those suffering from the condition.

And some of its money comes from the North East Trust for Aphasia, a charity set up by local people with the condition, as well as partners of a patient and professional therapists.

The charity is on a massive fundraising drive to encourage more support for the patients helped through the centre.

One of the founding members is 53-year-old retired accounts manager Gordon Doney, from Burnopfield, County Durham.

Eight years ago Gordon came face-to-face with Aphasia when he woke up one morning unable to speak.

Doctors discovered he had suffered a mild stroke while asleep. It took him nearly five months of therapy to converse at a normal level again.

He said: "My case is certainly not typical of a lot of people who suffer Aphasia because I was able to recover well.

"But I was in the Freeman for several weeks and got a lot of help from the speech and language therapist. …

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