We know that stroke is the No. 4 cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the U.S. A stroke can have various communication effects, one of which is aphasia. Stroke is the most common cause of aphasia, which is a language disorder that affects the ability to communicate. Aphasia does not affect intelligence. Stroke survivors remain mentally alert, even though their speech may be jumbled, fragmented or impossible to understand. People with aphasia are often frustrated and confused because they can’t speak as well or understand things the way they did before their stroke. They may act differently because of changes in their brain. Imagine looking at the headlines of the morning newspaper and not being able to recognize the words. Or think about trying to say "put the car in the garage" and it comes out "put the train in the house" or "widdle tee car ung sender plissen." Thousands of alert, intelligent men and women are suddenly plunged into a world of jumbled communication because of aphasia. Our legislators have the opportunity to help people currently living with aphasia and try to ensure that when someone suffers a stroke they are treated quickly so they have a chance to reverse disabilities like aphasia associated with stroke.
I was honored to be a part of the Aphasia Day at the State House on June 26th. We, at the American Stroke Association, joined with the hundreds of you living with aphasia and caregivers. We joined with them to advocate for two bills that can help improve stroke care and provide resources to survivors living with aphasia. We took the opportunity to thank the State Repreentatives for passing House Bill #4162 which establishes a special commission to investigate and study the programs and resources necessary to meet the unmet needs of persons with aphasia and their families and asked the Senate to act quickly on this legialatino to ensure that we are dedicating time to determine what resources are needed for people who are living with aphasia.
In addition, we asked legislators to help to move critical legislation that establishes a Stroke System of Care in the Commonwealth. With improved systems of care in Massachusetts, we can save the lives of many residents who suffer a stroke. We urge legislators to pass Senate Bill #2075 that will designate the best medical centers to treat stroke and ensure that care is delivered as promptly as possible. Each year, thousands of lives are lost to stroke largely due to a lack of coordination between emergency services, health professionals and treatment facilities. We can address the problem by passing this legislation that would close gaps in the continuum of care from prevention to recovery. Coordinated systems of care can save lives by providing stroke patients with seamless transitions from one stage of care to the next. I believe that this bill that would designate the best medical centers to treat stroke and establish an official state registry must be a priority for all members of the legislature.
I know sometimes you think about aphasia or stroke, what can I really do? "I am only human", but you can do so much, your voice can make a huge difference. Just being here today sharing your story and showing legislators what aphasia is, is making a difference. You are being an advocate today. You Advocacy is creating an environment that motivates people to act and helps increases visibility of your issue. Your advocacy can be powerful tool for producing social change where we live and work and if you don’t – who will?
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