Encouraging new evidence is emerging to suggest the brain’s plasticity, or its ability to change and heal, may last many years after injury—far longer than the commonly assumed plateau for speech recovery of about six months to a year after stroke. Insurers, for example, may only cover the cost of one-on-one speech therapy sessions for the first few months.
Nearly 20% of stroke victims are under 55, compared with fewer than 13% in the early 1990s, according to a 2012 study.
“Aphasia is one of the most isolating conditions, but in group treatment people who may have been sitting at home alone for four or five years suddenly find there are other people out there just like them,” says Roberta Elman, who helped to establish the life-participation and group-treatment approach and who is president of the Aphasia Center of California, in Oakland. The center matches patients to weekly communication groups based on the type of aphasia they have.