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Exploring new pathways to language
Date:2/17/2009

When ABC journalist Bob Woodruff was injured while reporting in Iraq in 2006, he suffered severe head injuries that caused him to lose his ability to recall and produce common words a condition called aphasia. Today, Woodruff has recovered most of his language skills thanks to intensive behavioral therapy reading and repeating words and sounds.

"The standard of care for patients with aphasia has always been and will always be speech/language therapy, but a new area is opening up that looks at what drugs can be used in combination with therapy to enhance recovery from brain damage and help the brain repair itself," said Gerry Stefanatos, D.Phil., an associate professor of communication sciences and disorders in the College of Health Professions. "We're looking at the mechanism of how this combination works it's underlying effect on patients with aphasia."

In research presented at the International Neurological Society this month, Stefanatos found that dextroamphetamine (D-AMPH), a drug commonly used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, improved the processing of speech among those suffering from Broca's aphasia and the similar Anomic aphasia.

"Improving a patient's attention and working memory may allow them to better focus and process information during therapy sessions," said Stefanatos. "Attention is critically important for learning and relearning skills, and could be helpful in forging new neural pathways in the brain."

The National Aphasia Association estimates some one million people in the United States live with aphasia, which is caused by lesions to the language centers of the brain. These lesions are often due to stroke or brain injury, but can also be the result of a brain tumor or progressive disease such as Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. Types of aphasia can range from a patient having difficulty finding and producing a word to a patient having no ability at all to speak or understand language.'/>"/>

Contact: Renee Cree
renee.cree@temple.edu
215-707-1583
Temple University
Source:Eurekalert  

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