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Sunday, August 8, 2010

The newsletter of the world leader in online aphasia treatment and group interaction. 8-8-2010 Staff Members Present on Tele-rehabilitation for Aphasia at a Washington, DC Capitol Hill Briefing

Meet the presenters:

Who is Paul Berger?

Paul is the award-winning author of "How to Conquer the World With One Hand...and an Attitude," a book about his adventures after suffering a massive stroke from a ruptured aneurysm when he was only 36. That was over 20 years ago. Paul's stroke resulted in paralysis of his right side and aphasia.  He was determined to live a full life, returning to work, volunteer activities, hobbies, and travel.  Paul has fully embraced computer and IT to connect with and inspire other stroke survivors through his website, e-newsletter, and new e-books with his tips on recovery.  He also participates in tele-rehabilitation, taking individual and group sessions with Bill Connors, and doing self-paced homework online from


Who is Bill Connors?

Bill is a certified speech language pathologist (SLP) specializing in combining technology, neuroscience and learning theory with current evidence and research to advance the treatment of aphasia and related disorders. He is the director of The Pittsburgh Aphasia Treatment, Research and Education Center as well as founder of  He provides in-person as well as tele-rehabilitation aphasia treatment and collaborates with SLPs around the world through the Aphasia-Apraxia Treatment CyberClinic. He is a clinical instructor for the Department of Communication Disorders and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh and served as chairperson of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center SLP Rehabilitation committee.  Bill is a state representative and member of the Multicultural Task Force for the National Aphasia Association and a member of the Advisory Board at .

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On June 14, 2010, Paul Berger and Bill Connors participated in the eHealth Initiative [ ] Capitol Hill Briefing on Patients & Technology.  Paul discussed the consumer perspective and Bill the speech/language pathologist perspective on tele-rehabilitation for aphasia treatment.  They then demonstrated an actual online aphasia treatment session and entertained questions.   The briefing was part of the National Health Information Week.   Below you will find the text of the FAQ handout distributed for their presentation. 

FAQs on Tele-Rehabilitation

Paul E. Berger - "e-Patient" -

William Connors, MA, CCC-SLP - "e-Therapist" -

The eHealthInitiative - Capitol Hill Briefing on Patients & Technology

National Health Information Technology Week - Monday, June 14, 2010 - 12:00 pm



What are Examples of Tele-Rehabilitation Activities for Aphasia?

  • Individual treatment sessions with speech therapist based on client's individual needs and personal goals, provided via two-way Internet web-camera and communications (eg, Skype, ooVoo), with therapist and client able to see and talk to each other in real time.
  • Individual practice sessions with peer counselor to extend skills from treatment sessions via two-way Internet web-camera and communications.
  • Group Sessions led by speech therapist with up to 5 clients via Internet web-camera and hosted group communications (eg, ooVoo). Group


Goals for group sessions: 

    • To provide peer collaborative practice and drills
    • To emphasize turn taking and listening skills
    • To facilitate participation and social communication engagement
    • To provide social support and networking
    • To practice treatment skills gained in individual sessions
    • To incorporate dedicated software into practice
    • To have fun.


    Is Tele-Rehabilitation for Aphasia Covered by Medicare?

    Medicare does NOT cover tele-rehab for aphasia because speech-language pathologists were not included in the legislation that designated eligible telehealth providers.[i]  Congress should amend the legislation to add speech therapists and others as eligible telehealth providers.


    What is Stroke?

    Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It is the No. 3 cause of death in the United States, behind heart disease and cancer. Stroke can be caused either by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain (called an ischemic stroke—over 80%of strokes are caused by clots) or by a blood vessel rupturing (called a hemorrhagic stroke—about 10% of strokes).


    What is Aphasia?

    Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language. For most people, these are areas on the left side (hemisphere) of the brain. Aphasia usually occurs suddenly, often as the result of a stroke or head injury, but it may also develop slowly, as in the case of a brain tumor, an infection, or dementia. The disorder impairs the expression and understanding of language as well as reading and writing. Aphasia may co-occur with speech disorders such as dysarthria or apraxia of speech, which also result from brain damage. [ii]


    What Are the Numbers?

    About 795,000 Americans each year suffer a new or recurrent stroke. That means, on average, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds. It is the leading cause of disability among adults. About 6.4 million Americans are living with stroke.  Americans will pay about $73.7 billion in 2010 for stroke-related acute hospital costs,medical costs and costs associated with the disabilities it causes.[iii]  Approximately 80,000 individuals acquire aphasia each year from strokes. About one million people in the United States currently have aphasia.[iv] 


    [i] See  for information about the limited telehealth services that Medicare reimburses.

    [ii] NIDCD Fact Sheet: Aphasia, Publication No. 08-4232, Updated October 2008. For more information, contact:

    NIDCD Information Clearinghouse, a service of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.Voice: (800)241-1044; TTY: (800) 241-1055; E-mail:;Internet:

    [iii] Source:Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics:     2010 Update, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, accessed at

    [iv] NIDCD Fact Sheet: Aphasia

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