Words don’t come easy to Alan Gazlay.
He suffered a stroke five years ago that left him speechless.
“It was a massive stroke and he’s paralyzed on his right side and he can’t speak. He has the aphasia,” says Crystal Gazlay, his wife.
“Aphasia is a neurological disorder and it impacts the center of the brain that controls language,” says Mary Jo Haughey, speech therapist with Lee Memorial Health System.
Approximately 30% of stroke patients have aphasia to some degree. It’s most common when damage is in the left middle cerebral artery. A new study finds patients who are forced to shift language function to the other side of their brain, may struggle more.
“They may also have difficulty understanding speech and they will also have difficulty possibly with reading and writing,” says Haughey.
Stroke survivors can regain some of their abilities by working with speech therapists. These findings may give new insights and could lead to better rehabilitation methods for people who need a long-term plan.
“I’ve worked the patients maybe three or four years post stroke and they can still make progress, it may not be as significant as in the beginning. It does depend on the extent of damage on the brain,” says Haughey.
Alan uses a speech-generating device, but is sticking with therapy. He hasn’t given up hope that he’ll find his voice someday.
“He keeps improving, always little small steps. You never stop trying,” says Gazlay.
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Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries.