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medically speaking, mental health

Pause the DVR—Jimmy’s a What?! (Jimmy’s an aphasic)

“Jimmy’s an aphasic. He’s lost the ability to comprehend spoken language. To compensate many aphasics become highly sensitive to subtle inflections in speech; and when we lie those vocal nuances become more pronounced. Most of us wouldn’t notice that, but aphasics do. And for some reason to them its sounds funny.”

“Human lie detector”

Pause the DVR —Jimmy’s a what?!

I’m fascinated by a lot of things. (hence the blog here.) I’m captivated by mysteries, the unknown and unexplained, and the various disorders alike. Not to suggest that I like being confused, I’m riveted by disturbances to the norm and systematic functioning, and why people do and don’t do certain things, and those with extra special “abilities”. I feed this curiosity though not only my journalistic pursuits, but also in my prime time program choices.

Shows like Lie to Me, The Mentalist, Law and Order SVU, Unforgettable, Monk (when it was on), Psych, Rizzoli &Isles, Bones, House, Alphas, the too quickly cancelled Eleventh Hour, and most recently TNT’s Perception.

As if I wasn’t already hooked on the Eric McCormack and Rachel

Eric McCormack in Pasadena, California

Eric McCormack in Pasadena, California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Leigh Cook combo—long time fans of them both—a series depicting a neuroscience professor with paranoid schizophrenia who helps feds crack difficult cases, sealed the deal. (And I dig shows about people in pairs solving crimes) I eagerly listen to these plot points, and routinely find myself motivated to do more research into complex character elements.

I have the premiere episode of Perception to thank for this new nugget of awareness. Won’t you continue to learn with me?

Those affected with aphasia have partially or completely loss the ability to articulate ideas or comprehend spoken or written language, as a result of damage to the brain caused from an injury or disease.

Aphasia usually results from lesions to the language-relevant areas of the frontal, temporal and parietal lobes of the brain. These areas are almost always in the left hemisphere, and in most people this is where the ability to produce and comprehend language is found.

Aphasia can occur in people of any age. Over 1,000,000 Americans live with aphasia every day.

“Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that impairs a person’s ability to process language, but does not affect intelligence. Aphasia impairs the ability to speak and understand others, and most people with aphasia experience difficulty reading and writing.”

Acute aphasia disorders usually develop quickly as a result of head injury or stroke, and progressive forms of aphasia develop slowly from a brain tumor, infection, or dementia. * “Aphasia can also result from Herpes Simplex virus (HSV) encephalitis. The (HSV) affects the frontal and temporal lobes, subcortical structures and the hippocampal tissue which can trigger aphasia”

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphasia

Did you know?

•     As the population ages, the # of people acquiring aphasia after a stroke increases. It’s estimated that there are 200,000 new cases of aphasia each year.

•     Many returning war veterans injured by IEDs have aphasia.

•     Insurance coverage for speech therapy, the most effective treatment for aphasia, is extremely limited to only a few weeks or months.

(Source: The National Aphasia Association )

There’s a great how we can help section on the National Aphasia Association official website that is seeking $25 in donations to mark their 25years of service to this community. These funds will assist with

•     Maintaining frontline support –their free phone hotline for people with aphasia and their families, who need understanding and advice about treatment, communication strategies, resources and more.

•     Providing free and low-cost resources (aphasia.org, books, DVDs) developed by aphasia experts, people with aphasia and their loved ones.

•     Promotion of a national network of over 300 aphasia community groups across the US and Canada, including the NAA’s Young People Network, for people 30 and younger with aphasia.

Last month (June 2012) was the Congress proclaimed Aphasia Awareness Month. The theme was “The Power of Aphasia Groups The Equation for Living Successfully with Aphasia”

One such support group is ‘AphasiaNow’. It “was created by  people with aphasia, and is run for people with aphasia.” This Gloucestershine, UK support group meets weekly and has a truly fantastic, than can be found here. Its sections include information on how to find groups, and conferences, inspiring crafts and books, forms of treatment, and updates on medical advancement and its continued research.

Some forms of treatment include:

  • Constraint-induced aphasia therapy or CIAT 1.

Constraint-induced aphasia therapy is based on principles from brain science: Learning within the brain is best when we repeatedly practise the skills we want to learn. Learning is accomplished when nerve cells frequently fire together. The more frequently nerve cells fire together, the better we learn.

  • TMS in the management of aphasia. TMS is a safe and painless method to stimulate the human brain. TMS uses strong, brief magnetic impulses produced by a probe held over the head. These impulses carry a small electric current through the scalp that activates the brain underneath.

Most acute aphasia patients can recover skills through help of a Speech-Language Pathologist. This form of rehab can take upwards of two years or more, all hedging upon their age, health, motivation, educational level, and handedness. Yes, their being left or right-handed plays a role as well. So such as, “Speech which is controlled by some areas which for the right-handed people is on the left side of the brain. TMS can get access to these areas.”

These treatments are only effective with certain types of aphasia, there is no universal course of treatment. As Wikipedia helpfully explains depending on the area and extent of brain damage or atrophy, that will determine the type of aphasia present and what the various symptoms are. Aphasia types include expressive aphasia, receptive aphasia, conduction aphasia, anomic aphasia, global aphasia, primary progressive aphasias and many others. (for more information on these varying types click here)

…The first recorded case of aphasia is from an Egyptian papyrus, the Edwin Smith Papyrus, which details speech problems in a person with a traumatic brain injury to the temporal lobe…interesting riiight?!

(for more on that go here)

Now going back to Jimmy on TNT’s Perception (not even a central character, but a totally barely mentioned one!), who was noticing the vocal inflections; for that I’ll refer you to the Uk ‘Auditory Neuroscience’ website. Because it definitely best explains the role of pitch in speech as it pertains to those with aphasia.

But human lie detector ‘eh?  Well that’s one observation.


About maggie.

Maggie Barnes is a nonprofit and for profit business content specialist / social media consultant; and social sciences web writer interested in everything from psychology and sexuality, to technology, race, and economics. She is passionate about good communication and information accessibility.


2 thoughts on “Pause the DVR—Jimmy’s a What?! (Jimmy’s an aphasic)

  1. Love the post!! Great that you put the link to the Aphasia Association website. Many people aren’t aware of the struggle of the ‘mystical’ diagnosis of aphasia 🙂

    Posted by slpecho | August 30, 2012, 12:15 am


  1. Pingback: “Hey, I just met you…and this is crazy…but here’s my web link, download me maybe?” « interesting12 - September 7, 2012

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