Brooks Rehabilitation and Jacksonville University are helping patients find their voice

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — More than two million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with aphasia, a language impairment.

Daryl Stevenson, 49, is living with aphasia. Aphasia is described as a loss of words, not intellect.

It’s an impairment of a person’s ability to speak, read or write language.

“I have a bunch or words. I can get it out but its hard,” Stevenson said.

It’s usually caused by a stroke or brain injury.

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In Stevenson’s case, he suffered a stroke three years ago at work, which brought him to the Brooks Rehabilitation Aphasia Center.

There, he’s working with a speech pathologist from Brooks Rehab and mental health counselors from Jacksonville University.

Jodi Morgan, the Brooks Rehabilitation Aphasia Center manager told Action News Jax she uses tools like a white board, so patients can re-learn basic life skills.

“Sometimes they might not understand the spoken word, but if I write it down then they can understand it, so there’s different methods that we do as trained professionals to help get the message in and help them to get the message out.”

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In fact, Jacksonville University said there is such a need for aphasia therapy that it established a support group that meets once a week.

“Families under stress and in trouble, things like depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, we quickly realized that this was a group that needed to be held weekly,” Dr. Natalie Indelicato, a licensed mental health counselor and associate professor at Jacksonville University, said.

Patients come in person or tune in virtually from all over the world to get the help they need.

When Stevenson first got to the center he couldn’t speak, but now he’s come a long way, learning skills to help him find his voice and get his life back.

“Yes, move on, get out of here,” laughed Stevenson.