News & Features

Unique Boot Camp Builds Language Muscles

2014 Aphasia Boot CampCampers, graduate students, professors, and
Cathy and Mike Pressimone (back row, right)
wrap up the final day of the 2014 Aphasia Boot Camp.
For six weeks this summer, six adults ranging in age from 50-70 met on Fontbonne University’s campus for boot camp. This boot camp, however, didn’t include the usual pushups, sit-ups or jumping jacks. Instead, group members worked with the department of communication disorders and deaf education to undergo intensive speech and language therapy intervention for three hours each day, four days each week, for all six weeks.

Each member of the Aphasia Boot Camp has experienced language and cognitive changes due to a stroke and has been receiving therapy at the university’s Eardley Family Clinic for Speech, Language and Hearing. At each session, the group conversed together for an hour, then broke out into individual language and cognitive therapy. Fontbonne graduate speech-language pathology students, whose participation was made possible through funding by the Employee Community Fund of Boeing St. Louis, worked one-on-one with each group member.

“Research has shown that for people with chronic aphasia, which lasts for six months or longer, often plateau in their recovery under a traditional therapy model,” explained Carmen Russell, associate professor and interim chair of the department of communication disorders and deaf education. “This intense level of therapy has shown to be effective in helping the person with aphasia break through the plateau and make additional gains. Our experience in the Aphasia Boot Camp has shown this to be true.”

Russell and Barb Meyer, associate professor and director of clinical education, as well as participating graduate students, presented their findings at the American Speech-Language Hearing annual meeting last November as a poster session.

Aphasia Boot Camp began during the summer of 2013 because of a $10,000 Fontbonne Community Connection grant to pilot the project. Because of the camp's success, Fontbonne board member John Capellupo provided funding for 2014. And based on this year’s success, said Russell, the camp will be offered annually.

Learn more about studying speech-language pathology and deaf education at Fontbonne.

Learn more about our speech-language pathology and early intervention in deaf education graduate programs.

To contact the Eardley Family Clinic for Speech, Language and Hearing, call 314.889.1407.