Speech-Language Pathology Students Volunteer with the National Aphasia Association; Professor Discusses the Neurological Disorder of Communication
(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.
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
"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
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
us online today.
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