Marla had a busy and productive summer. It’s hard to believe that fall is almost here! Probably her biggest accomplishment this year
was completing a 6 week intensive speech therapy program at the University of Michigan’s Residential Aphasia Program, or RAP for short.
She left in early May for Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she lived completely on her own during the 6 week program! Leo went out with Marla
to help get her established in the small apartment suite where she lived in Ann Arbor, a couple of miles from the University.
The program included around 5 hours of speech therapy each day, including individual therapy, group therapy, computer therapy, as well as
art and music therapy. Marla made friends with other attendees from all over the world. The RAP program is internationally renowned
as one of a kind for its intensity and dedication to improving communication in aphasic individuals. Marla made dramatic progress during
her time at RAP. At the beginning of the RAP session, each patient undergoes a battery of verbal and written tests to establish a benchmark against which progress can be measured. In addition, an entrance interview is videotaped, for use in comparing interactive speech usage with a videotaped exit interview.
Marla’s therapists were very impressed with the wide variety of adaptive communications strategies Marla was already using when she arrived, including drawing pictures and writing things down or spelling them out. With these capabilities already well within her routine, they were able to immediately hone her therapeutic strategies on more advanced skills. Her therapy focused on improving word recognition,reading, writing, as well as usage of correct syntax and sentence structure in speech. Marla’s therapists described Marla as being one of the most motivated students with whom they had worked during their careers. They also described her as a pleasure and a joy to work with,someone who made each therapy session a lot of fun! She soaked up everything that they gave her, and was always asking questions and looking for ways in which to improve. She worked hard for five intensive hours per day, and came home
exhausted each evening, but diligently worked on homework each night for one to two hours. Very much like being back at college!
She made substantial progress in all areas. Marla entered the program communicating primarily in single words and sentence
fragments. She astonished her friends and family by coming home from the program using syntactically correct complete sentences!
Her therapists were impressed with her tenaciousness. They emphasized that for Marla to continue improving and developing her
communication skills, it is vital for her to continue with an intensive therapy program. It will be a challenge to find a solution in Colorado
that is both affordable and meets Marla’s needs. The folks at RAP also urged Marla to come back to Michigan for as many sessions as she
can attend. Research has shown that continued, intensive therapy is vital to continue improvement and retain learning that has occurred.
In addition, Marla made amazing progress in her occupational therapy at the University of Michigan academic hospital. Her therapist
there diagnosed her right shoulder as having frozen, with the radial and humeral nerves having adaptively shortened due to under-use.
Marla’s OT at the University was able to help Marla make great strides during her six weeks. The surgeon who worked on Marla’s elbow
had hoped Marla’s range of motion would eventually improve to the degree that she would be able to bring her right hand up to her mouth.
With the help of her OT, by the time she was ready to leave Michigan, she was able to bring her right hand up, over, and behind her head!
Returning to Colorado has been challenging for Marla. She thrived with the independence she enjoyed while in Michigan, and definitely
misses being on her own - re-integrating to living with Mom and Dad has been at times difficult. However, in follow-up to her program,
Mary and Leo have worked to involve Marla in an intensive tutoring program, emphasizing phonics, spoken sentences, increasing auditory
processing, and writing complete sentences. She has also started integrating kinesthetic techniques into her speech work, designed to
activate various areas of the brain simultaneously, improving synapse cross-utilization. Marla has recently had lots of fun with equine
therapy sessions at Sopris Therapy in Carbondale. Riding and working with horses improves her balance and coordination, and is
a fun way to enjoy the outdoors and do something different! Thanks for stopping by, and Marla would love to hear from everyone!
RAP introduced her to new software programs that can verbalize her e-mail messages to her on the computer, allowing her to
follow along on-screen and improve her reading comprehension. Please feel free to leave her a message on her messages section,
or to send her an e-mail. Marla and her family continue to appreciate everyone’s support and interest in her progress. Namaste!