February 27, 2009
Byrd Drucker Aphasic Fund Encourages MMC’s Program Success
Teresa M. Signorelli, clinic director of the Ruth Smadbeck Communication and Learning Center, email@example.com, (212) 774-0728
Manny Romero, director of communications and publications, firstname.lastname@example.org, (212) 517-0451
(New York, NY) The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) at Marymount Manhattan continues to shine, producing programs to improve the lives of individuals who need assistance. The Saturday Aphasia Therapy Program, which celebrated its one-year anniversary in January, is only one of a few state-of-the art facilities of its kind offered at an undergraduate higher education institution in the United States to speech-language pathology and audiology students. The program, which was developed in collaboration with the International Aphasia Movement (IAM) is offered through the Ruth Smadbeck Communication and Learning Center.
Aphasia is a communication disorder that typically results from brain damage, most often a stroke. The brain trauma often leaves patients with motor difficulties, such as controlling their articulators, chewing and swallowing, using their arms and walking, in addition to the cognitive-linguistic communication difficulties.
Teresa Signorelli, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, clinic director of the Ruth Smadbeck Communication and Learning Center, says the program currently has about 13 stroke survivors who attend the Saturday program each session.
“The therapy group provides social, emotional, and cognitive-linguistic support for stroke survivors,” she says. “Participants engage in a variety of large and small group sessions throughout the day. Caregivers, or “co-survivors,” are invited to observe and participate in structured activities with an IAM facilitator who provides them with advisement on helping family members suffering from Aphasia. The services, which include lunch for all participants, are free to participants.”
Ann Jablon, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, professor of communication science and disorders and chair of the Division of the Sciences, said the program applied this service model from the International Aphasia Movement (IAM).
“Harvey Alter, who is president of IAM and a stroke survivor, developed the model of service delivery that we adapted for our program,” Jablon said. “It’s a well-integrated model that addresses both the communicative needs and social needs of all group members.”
The Saturday program is funded through the generosity of donors and the family of a former patient of the Smadbeck Center, Byrd Drucker. After his death in the fall of 2007, Mr. Drucker’s family started the Byrd Drucker Aphasic Fund, which supports the clinic, out of appreciation for the care Mr. Drucker received. The Smadbeck Center and the Drucker family plan to continue and expand fundraising for the Byrd Drucker Aphasic Fund, in order to support the growth of the program.
“Mr. Drucker was a member of our Tuesday group session,” Jablon said. “Mrs. Drucker often accompanied him to the Smadbeck Center for this aftercare group. They both benefited from the interactions and friendships that were formed in this setting. We benefited from their enthusiastic participation.”
CSD’s Saturday Aphasia Therapy Program also offers students interested in becoming speech-language pathologists the unique opportunity to develop their skills.
“The Saturday program serves not only as outreach to the community, but as a training model for both our undergraduate students and for graduate students from various speech-language pathology masters programs,” Jablon said. “The combined efforts and support to educate Marymount Manhattan students and to provide therapy to stroke survivors, make the Saturday Aphasia Program outstanding.”
Signorelli says she is very thankful for the support the program has received so far and hopes the program will continue to flourish in the years to come.
“We would love to develop new programs,” she said. “Our ability to do so is contingent on our ability to raise the funds to do so. Additional groups we would like to start include a group on Sunday, a Spanish speaking group, and perhaps a shorter week-night version of the session. We are also looking into other related therapies to improve cognitive-linguistic and motor functioning in stroke survivors such as music and art therapy.”
The Ruth Smadbeck Communication and Learning Center is a training site for speech pathology and audiology students enrolled in the undergraduate program of the Marymount Manhattan College Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Since its inception in the 1970’s, it has grown to a state of the art facility including professional treatment offices, closed television circuitry observation facilities, and a speech research laboratory. In addition to the Saturday Aphasia Therapy Program, the center offers a week-day program and provides services to people of all ages with a full range of speech, language and hearing difficulties.
MMC students who are majoring in speech-language pathology and audiology are capable of observing professional training sessions and providing service to patients clients under the supervision of licensed staff. At the culmination of their studies, the students may obtain certification as teachers of the speech and language disabled, and continue for graduate degrees in Speech Language Pathology.
“We welcome contributions to the Byrd Drucker Aphasic Fund at any time during the year to ensure the continuation of our educational mission and our outreach to this community,” Jablon said.
Contributions to the Byrd Drucker Aphasic Fund or The Smadbeck Center can be made online at www.mmm.edu or by mailing a check payable to: “Marymount Manhattan College,” Office of Institutional Advancement, 221 E. 71st Street, New York, NY 10021.
To learn more about the Aphasia Therapy Program and all the other services offered at The Ruth Smadbeck Communication Center, call (212) 774-0728.