News & Events

Speech-Language Pathology Students Volunteer with the National Aphasia Association; Professor Discusses the Neurological Disorder of Communication
Seton Hall > News & Events 

(L to R) Venugopal Balasubramanian, associate professor of speech-language pathology (SLP) at the School of Health and Medical Sciences; Oliver Sacks, world-renowned neurologist; and SLP graduate students Matthew Masiello and Brianne Farrelley at the National Aphasia Association Spring Benefit on April 10 in New York City.
Students and Dr. Sacks

On April 10, four graduate students from the Department of Speech-Language Pathology at the School of Health and Medical Sciences (SHMS) volunteered at the National Aphasia Association Spring Benefit in New York City, New York. The School sponsored the students' admission to the event, and joining them that evening were Brian B. Shulman, PhD, dean of SHMS and professor of speech-language pathology, and Venugopal Balasubramanian, PhD, associate professor of speech-language pathology.

"It is a point of pride for our School that our students are so active in the health care community and were so eager to participate with this incredible national organization," says Dr. Shulman. "This was a wonderful opportunity for all of us to meet and connect with others who care about raising awareness about aphasia or who have aphasia themselves."

The SHMS students – Brianne Farrelley, Gabriella LoSasso, Mathew Masiello and Laura O'Connor – helped the National Aphasia Association staff and volunteers by greeting and seating guests for the benefit event, which featured a screening of the film "After Words" with introduction by Dr. Oliver Sacks, the world-renowned neurologist whom the students also had the opportunity to meet. The benefit also included a performance by the Amalgamate Dance Company of an excerpt from an original dance piece inspired by aphasia.

SHMS' Dr. Balasubramanian describes aphasia as an acquired neurological disorder of communication resulting from structural and functional damages to brain areas that are vital for language and related cognitive functions. "The damage to the left side of the brain, which is mostly responsible for the aphasic symptoms, is caused by vascular, degenerative and infectious diseases as well as neurotrauma and neoplasms," he explains. Aphasia is characterized by word-finding difficulty, inability to understand spoken and written language and reduced ability write and read.

"Adults with aphasia tend to produce words that lack precise production of sound sequences, and/or exhibit the tendency to produce words that are semantically related to target words. Some have extreme difficulty formulating grammatically intact sentences," Dr. Balasubramanian continues, noting that speech-language pathologists treat patients with aphasia in acute, sub-acute and chronic stages of evolution, providing treatment that encompasses recovery mechanisms such as activation, restitution and compensation.

"The ultimate goal of treatment is to enhance communicative interaction, social connection and quality of life for clients with aphasia," he says. "Speech-language pathologists also play a significant role in aphasia advocacy." This was certainly the case with SHMS' support of this national awareness event.

To learn more about the Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology program at Seton Hall University’s School of Health and Medical Sciences, visit us online today.

For more information please contact:
Venu Balasubramanian
(973) 275-2912


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