Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Aphasia Awareness Broadcast

The National Aphasia Association (NAA) just announced notified that NAA Board Member, Peter Turkeltaub, M.D., Ph.D. and Advisory Council Member, Audrey Holland, Ph.D., will be featured on The Diane Rehm Show on Thursday, September 26th at 10:00am EST.  Drs. Turkeltaub and Holland will be discussing aphasia research and spreading awareness across the airwaves!  Listen live through the website ( or on your radio if you live in the Washington area on WAMU 88.5.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Use Your Resources

In my last post, I talked about Medicare limits and how therapy is often forced to end way to early.  This is often true of private insurances too.  Right now, I  am treating a young 22 year old college student who has a severe brain injury.  He honestly could use 8-12 months of speech therapy, but unfortunately his insurance has limited him to only 18 visits.  Not 18 weeks, visits.  That equals to 6 weeks at 3 times a week.   Not fair.  I urge you to become familiar with your insurance benefits before you need them.  How much will they pay for inpatient rehab stay if needed?  How about outpatient?  Home health? 

So, what to do if this happens to you or your loved one?  Look at all your options and resources.  If you live in or near a larger city with a University or College, they may have a Speech Pathology Program (Graduate or Undergraduate) there.  This is useful b/c the students have to have so many therapy hours to graduate and so many times they have their own clinics for therapy.  These clinics are a fraction of the cost of private pay therapy, yet still good therapy b/c although they are students, they have a clinical supervisor critiquing them.  There are also many times group therapies as well as individual sessions.  Another resource is support groups.  These are great not just for the spouse, child, mother, father of the individual with aphasia, but also for the individual himself.  Use this as a therapy time, attempting to communicate to others using gestures, writing, and words.  Figure out which communication mode works best.  Last, check out home therapy products.  I personally recommend Communication Partner DVD's (being the creator) which is actually a "therapy at home" resource.  Sit back in your recliner and participate along with the DVDs which provide countless hours of therapy sessions.  (Visit the site at  There are also great apps, such as Tactus which provide help with getting your words out, understanding language, reading and spelling.  Also, check out Lingraphica's apps, which are great for communicating needs and basic thoughts.  Don't be afraid to Google  "Aphasia resources" and see what comes up. 

Don't give up hope just because your insurance has run out.  Continue the journey to recovery.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Medicare Caps

Medicare Caps have been a hot topic since October of last year.  If you or your loved one has suffered any type of illness or injury that required outpatient rehabilitation, then you should know about it.  Unfortunately, the news is not good.  Medicare has "capped" their payment for outpatient rehabilitation to $3700 for Occupational Therapy and $3700 for Physical and Speech Therapies combined.  What this means, is no matter how much therapy you may need, once you reach that dollar limit, your therapy is over (unless you want to pay out of pocket, of course).  This has left many, many people with no choice but to discontinue therapy because of the inability to pay.  Furthermore, many are forced to choose which discipline they need more, physical or speech therapy, since they share money.  So, is it more important to you that you be able to walk across the room or communicate your thoughts?  As ridiculous as that sounds, that is what Medicare has turned it into.   Would you rather use your Medicare money with physical therapy or speech therapy?  I work with patients all the time that have to ask themselves that question. 

My advice is that if you are in this scenario, look for other outlets once your therapy has ended.  Check out apps, computer programs, software, workbooks, therapy sessions and group sessions at local universities that have Speech Pathology programs (you can often receive therapy with students for little money out of pocket), post therapy exercise programs and support groups.  I will talk next time about specifics on those.  In the meantime, write your local senator about the Medicare Caps and how it has affected you or your loved one personally.  It certainly cannot hurt, and who knows, if we yell loud enough, we may see a change for the better one day!