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Lubbock pediatrician among many with STAR power

Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 12:11 AM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - It made headlines last week when the family of Bruce Willis announced he was leaving his acting career because of a diagnosis of Aphasia, a condition in the brain which affects speech and language.

Did you know that the Texas Tech offers a program through its Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences that is providing enormous impact on families here, living with the same problem.

It is the Stroke & Aphasia Recovery program known as the STAR program.

I had the opportunity to tour the facility and meet some of the wonderful patients going through the program.

However, I was quickly corrected that you don’t call them patients.

They are referred to as members.

Susan Sneed, a speech pathologist and instructor in the program, says, “”All of our members have had stroke, brain injury or neurological damage to cause some type of issue with language.”

Among the members, I was introduced to Phillip Alexander, a former school teacher, who suffered a career ending automobile accident. LaDonna Elam suffered a stroke. Esther Moses also suffered a stroke. Sharon Reese had 5 strokes that left her paralyzed. Sylvia Leos had a brain aneurysm. Renee Collazo suffered a stroke.

I was surprised to find that I have known one of the other members for a very long time.

Dr. Glenn Boris, a retired pediatrician, was one of my favorite go-to interviews when he was in private practice many years ago. His wife, Cyndi, told me that his life changed in 2018. She says, “He was left with complete right side paralysis because it was a left sided stroke.” She calls it a miracle that he was able to relearn how to walk. Now, he continues to work on regaining his speech and language through the help of Dr. Melinda Corwin, Ph.D., director of the Star program.

I hope you will watch this story to get some insight into the many stages of recovery if Aphasia follows a brain injury or stroke. As Susan explains, “Aphasia is a loss of language, not intelligence.”

The Star program meets every Tuesday and Thursday at TTUHSC. Members are divided into groups, according to their skill level. The instructors become their friends and encourage progress as others watch and learn from observation windows.

Meanwhile, Dr. Corwin is excited about another opportunity for members that is growing every year. The STAR summer arts camp includes 2 weeks of intensive artistic healing, 4 hours a day. She says, “Studies have shown that all of the arts, performing arts, singing, movement, these all help the brain to reengage.”

Best wishes to all my new friends and to Dr. Boris, hoping for great progress in your journey to recovery.

For more information on the STAR program or the summer arts camp, call (806) 743-5670.

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