11th Annual Tiger Dash Brings the Community Together

deans-letter-pt-tiger-dash-03On a brisk Saturday in October during Pacific Homecoming, 179 runners lined up at the starting line of the 11th annual Tiger Dash 5K and Half Mile Cub Run. Among the runners were a number of students from local schools. “This year our office was awarded a community grant through Kaiser Permanente to implement running programs at our afterschool sites,” said Nora Hana, MA Ed, afterschool programs coordinator for San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE). “The culminating event of the running club was to run a 5K. Since we have an ongoing partnership with Pacific’s physical therapy department I reached out to Dr. Todd Davenport to see if we could participate in the Tiger Dash. It was a perfect event for us since the students in our afterschool program were familiar with the physical therapy students at Pacific.” Dr. Davenport commented, “What a fantastic way to kick off the second decade of the Tiger Dash and Cub Run, to continue building bridges between our campus and our community.”

The expanded partnership between the Department of Physical Therapy and SJCOE was based on their collaboration on another project, the Healthy Children program, which is sponsored by the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Fund. The program allows physical therapy students to participate in afterschool programs to teach local students about backpack safety and the importance of a healthy diet.

“I saw many of our afterschool students recognize the Pacific physical therapy students that came to their schools,” Hana said. “Many of the students that participated in the run have never been to a college campus before so this was a very rewarding and unique opportunity for them.” She explains, “It is important for these students because many of them will be the first in their families to consider attending a college. We always want to give our students opportunities to learn from positive role models that are in their communities and to expose them to higher learning opportunities. This expands their horizons and gives them a look at what opportunities are out there for them. Also, having parents bring their children to the campus helps families experience the different possibilities together.”

Doctor of physical therapy (DPT) student Megan Stiller ’17 served as Tiger Dash’s event chief executive officer. She shares that the most memorable part of the event for her personally was the interactions she had with students from the afterschool program. Stiller is passionate about addressing the growing epidemic of childhood obesity, she sees a natural fit between this goal and Tiger Dash. “I feel strongly about outreach and prevention,” Stiller said. “We really try to instill in the kids the things that they can do.”

The Pacific 5K Tiger Dash and Half Mile Cub Run serves as a fundraiser for the DPT Class of 2017. The majority of the funds raised will be used to help students with travel expenses and conference fees associated with attending the national physical therapy conference, American Physical Therapy Association’s annual Combined Sections Meeting (CSM). In addition to networking opportunities, CSM offers physical therapy students and practicing physical therapists access to the latest developments in their dynamic profession. Stiller elaborates, “We can find out the most up-to-date information, learn about current products available, policy changes, new legislation and changes to billing.” Stiller explains that staying up-to-date with changes in the profession allows physical therapists to give their patients the best possible care.

A portion of the funds raised will go toward the Physical Therapy Visionary Endowment, which also supports students traveling to CSM. The purpose of the Physical Therapy Visionary Endowment is to help relieve the pressure of raising funds during the semester, thus allowing the DPT students to focus on their studies. Once the fund reaches $50,000 it will be matched by the Powell Match.

Attending CSM is a key opportunity for professional growth and the process of organizing Tiger Dash is as well. Stiller elaborates, “You use the same skill set you would use in the clinic. Tiger Dash is heavily student initiated, that’s how it first began and it is definitely student run. The whole class gets involved.” The DPT students reached out to community partners to sponsor the event. Major sponsors for the 2016 event were Lodi Physical Therapy, Pine Street Physical Therapy, Golden Bear Physical and Occupational Therapy, Homer’s Barbershop, Team Movement for Life (Central Valley Physical Therapy and Delta Physical Therapy) and Fleet Feet.

“I hope it continues to be a homecoming tradition,” shares Stiller. Echoing her enthusiasm, Hana expressed, “We are looking forward to next year. We are already gearing up for it.”

“Mark your calendars to come join us.” Dr. Davenport said. “The 12th Annual Tiger Dash is scheduled for Saturday, October 7, 2017!”


Baseball Brings the SLP Community Together

The crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, the announcer calling “strike three!” It was the atmosphere at a baseball game that inspired Benjamin Reece ’01, ’08 assistant clinical professor of speech-language pathology, to create Better Speech and Hearing Night at the Ballpark.

Professor Reece approached the Stockton Ports Minor League Baseball team with his idea and was met with an enthusiastic response. The first year he started with 100 tickets, planning for each speech therapy client to bring one caregiver. As the date of the event drew closer, Professor Reece began to get discouraged by the apparent lack of interest. After a discussion with his colleagues he realized that each client’s support system extends far beyond one guardian. When he opened up the event to include the client’s whole support system the tickets sold out in two weeks. They increased the number of tickets to 600, which astounded the Port’s management. “That had never been done before on an inaugural event,” explains Professor Reece.

“My first goal is to increase awareness of speech and hearing disorders,” said Professor Reece. “My second goal is to recognize the work that goes into overcoming a communication disorder.” He emphasized that in addition to the exhaustive efforts by the client throughout the speech therapy process, their success is possible as a result of a network of support.  In addition to the speech-language pathologist, “the caregivers who take them to therapy, the siblings who are affected by the communication disorder and the extended family.”

At that first event, a client who was profoundly deaf and had a cochlear implant assisted the announcers in the radio booth. Professor Reece explains that when an individual receives a cochlear implant early on they do not hear the whole range of sounds; it is a process and the device is tuned over a period of time. He shares that only a week before the game, the client had been mapped for the “s” sound, a critical sound when announcing “strike one, strike two!”

Hosted by California Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Better Speech and Hearing Night at the Ballpark has now spread beyond Stockton. The Modesto Nuts, Sacramento River Cats, Oakland A’s, Lake Elsinore Storm and Inland Empire 66ers have all held similar events. Past events have included individuals from the speech-language pathology community singing or signing the National Anthem, throwing the first pitch, announcing the lineup and leading the crowd in singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” during the seventh-inning stretch.

Professor Reece shares that it is hard to describe the experience when a speech-language pathologist has the opportunity to sit at a baseball game with a client and their family, whom they may have worked with for several years. It gives them the chance to interact in a different context. One factor that motivated Professor Reece to organize this event was working with children with autism. He identified a need for an event where families would feel that their child was accepted and where there would be no judgment if they needed to leave early because the child felt overwhelmed.

Professor Reece is amazed by the positive response from the community, which often takes shape in unexpected ways. He shared a story from one baseball season at a Port’s game, one of the mothers brought her son who has autism to a concession stand. The cashier wasn’t given special training in preparation for the event, but was aware that it was Better Speech and Hearing Night at the Ballpark. She took the mother’s order and then asked the child directly what he wanted to order. At first he shied away, but the cashier was very patient and eventually he communicated to her what he wanted. The mother was touched and she shared that this was the first time that her son had ordered for himself.

“We can take out passions and create community event around these passions. Baseball isn’t the point,” emphasizes Professor Reece. “Take what you are passionate about outside of work and use it to bring awareness.”


Language-Literacy Center (LLC) Services in Spring 2016 For Area Youth

Seeking Referrals for the Language-Literacy Center (LLC)

Co-Directors: Jeannene Ward-Lonergan, PhD & Jill Duthie, PhD

The Language-Literacy Center (LLC) is funded through a grant from the University of the Pacific to meet the clinical training needs of Speech-Language Pathology students at the University of the Pacific and the language-literacy needs of area youth. The LLC is designed to provide our students with opportunities to learn best practices in working with youth who have language-literacy disorders and to conduct research in this area. We are currently seeking referrals of individuals who meet the following criteria as potential candidates for the LLC:

  • Children/adolescents in grades 1-12
  • Mild-Moderate Language Disorder
  • At least low average cognitive ability
  • Struggle with literacy (reading and/or writing)
  • Ability to attend weekly, 1-hour afternoon sessions

Assessment and treatment sessions will be provided free of charge in the Department of Speech-Language Pathology & Audiology at the University of the Pacific, 757 Brookside Road, Stockton, CA. Parents/caregivers of potential candidates of the LLC should email the directors to obtain a referral form for their child.  Please contact either Jeannene Ward-Lonergan, at  jwardlon@pacific.edu or Jill Duthie at  jduthie@pacific.edu

Students Provide Physical Therapy in Malawi

Dessel working with a patient.
Dessel working with a patient.

With the simple greeting, Muli bwanji, or “Greetings from Malawi,” a professor and her team of physical therapy students were met with a multitude of smiles and soccer games as they treated patients and trained community health workers. “It was a truly welcoming culture that was appreciative of any education or physical therapy skill that we were able to provide,” said Katherine Samstag ‘15, who was part of the December 2014 team.

Casey Nesbit, DPT, DSc, assistant professor and director of clinical education shared her passion for training health care workers with her students. Since 2006, Dr. Nesbit has visited Saint Gabriel’s Hospital and organized two-week trips for students. Last year’s trip included Samstag, Michael Dessel ‘15 and Meiying Lam ‘15. The students prepared for the Malawi trip with an elective course consisting of weekly seminars to discuss common health conditions as well as the local Chewa culture and the Chichewa language. In addition, they prepared materials for a community health worker training course.

The three-to-four day physical therapy course trains 20 health workers who serve villagers with chronic illnesses and disabilities. The program is essential to the local population because according to Dr. Nesbit, the hospital lacks a physical therapist and “there are only 25 physical therapists” in the entire country. The education the School provides is vital to a country where “physical therapy is a relatively novel idea,” said Dessel. As the students trained health workers, they were able to improve their Chichewa skills and eventually were able to have simple conversations and provide therapy instructions to their patients.

Students in front of St. Gabriels Hospital.
Students in front of St. Gabriels Hospital.

The collaborative educational experience is one the students benefited from and will use in their new careers. Dessel plans to begin his physical therapy career in New York City upon completion of his clinical internships. He hopes to eventually obtain his orthopedic clinical specialist certificate. Lam anticipates working in outpatient care as a certified orthopedic specialist for under-served communities after completing a residency. Samstag plans to move back to her home state of Washington. She looks forward to working as a pediatric physical therapist in Seattle.

Dr. Nesbit will keep living up to her teaching philosophy and “focus on active engagement, self-direction, reflection and guided discovery.” Every year, she plans to continue the incredible, real world education that the Malawi trip provides for the students at the School.


VN CARES Offers Free Health Screenings to Sacramento Community

vn cares group photo_resizedVietnamese Cancer Awareness, Research & Education Society (VN CARES) is delighted and honored to announce that the 7th Annual Sacramento Pacific Outreach Health Fair held on November 16, 2014 at the Vietnamese Martyrs Church in Sacramento was an overwhelming success. It was an incredible turnout where roughly 300 members of the local community and underserved population came out to partake in free health focused activities. Because of the collaborative and superb efforts from the sponsors, vendors, preceptors and volunteers, VN CARES was able to provide a total of 634 health screenings and services including blood pressure, cholesterol, blood glucose, glycated hemoglobin (HbA1C), bone mineral density, memory decline, anemia, body mass index, immunizations and smoking cessation counseling. Consistently trying to improve the fair each year, VN CARES added a new screening to the list—Hepatitis B. The service was kindly provided by the Asian American Network for Cancer Awareness, Research and Training (AANCART) housed within the University of California, Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Striving to give back to the community, VN CARES was able to touch the lives of various ethnicities including Vietnamese, Chinese, Caucasian, Hispanic and African American. Furthermore, due to the diverse team of pharmacy and undergraduate student volunteers from the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, California Northstate University, Sacramento State University and University of California, Davis, the health fair provided translators to better assist patients of different ethnic backgrounds.

When asked to provide overall feedback on the health fair, many patients were emotional as they expressed their sincere gratitude. One patient, communicating through a translator said, “I am so grateful that [VN CARES] hosted this health fair and invited Vietnamese doctors and pharmacists to provide consultations and answer health-related questions for patients with limited English proficiency like me.” Another patient proclaimed, “I have not visited the doctor’s office for a long time because I don’t have health insurance and can’t afford it. That is why I came to this health fair today. I am so impressed and thankful for everyone’s efforts in setting up this health fair and offering our community so many health screenings and services. I will definitely come again next year.”cholestrol testing_resized

Many volunteers voiced positive responses as well. Quynh Nhu Nguyen ’16, a second-time VN CARES Sacramento Pacific Outreach Health Fair volunteer expressed, “I thought VN CARES did a better job with the screening line this time around and it was a great turn out.” In an interview with KCRA Sacramento News station, Dr. Tuan Tran, event organizer and sponsor, stated, “This [health fair] is a unique opportunity where we can work toward a new mentality of preventative health services.” Naomi Le ’17, first year VN CARES co-chair, commented, “This is my first health fair with VN CARES and it’s been rewarding to work with such compassionate students who share my hopes to improve health care access to the local community.”

Continuing their community involvement next semester, VN CARES will host a speaker event on January 8, 2015 to promote cervical cancer awareness. They will also hold the Pacific Family Health Fair in March 2015 in Stockton, Calif. It marks their second health fair of the academic school year and is expected to be one of the largest health fairs organized by student pharmacists. As the year comes to a close, VN CARES is excited to ring in the New Year with new events that will carry on the committee’s objective to make a positive impact on the health of the community.


Student Pharmacists Provide Immunizations to City Hall Staff

On October 21, 2014, Pacific’s American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) collaborated with the Operation Immunization Committee (OIC) to celebrate American Pharmacists Month by hosting an immunization clinic at Stockton City Hall. This initiative was one of the many events organized during Legislative Week where student pharmacists promoted the profession of pharmacy to local lawmakers.proclamation

At this event student pharmacists advocated and communicated with members of City Hall including Mayor Anthony Silva and Councilmember Moses Zapien where they discussed pharmacy and its impact on the Stockton community. The coordinator of the event, April Nguyen ’16, APhA-ASP Vice President of Legislative Affairs, continued the initiative by collecting patient testimonials regarding the pharmacists’ role in the healthcare team and why legislation regarding pharmacy is important. She emphasized that “we are excited as future pharmacists to continue to serve the community in Stockton through our annual, free flu clinic to celebrate the first Legislative Week at Pacific! We are honored to receive a City Proclamation, issued by the Office of the Mayor, recognizing October as American Pharmacists’ Month and look forward to working with our community as student pharmacists.” During the event, 21 members of the Mayor’s staff were immunized against the flu and learned more about immunizations, vaccine preventable diseases, pharmacy and the role of pharmacists as health care providers.


Student Pharmacists Give Back with Canned Goods and Holiday Cards

In the spirit of the holiday season, student pharmacists dedicated their time to help the homeless by collecting canned food and hand-writing Christmas cards. During the week of November 17 to 21, card stock was made available in the Chan Family Health Sciences Learning Center and Clinics and boxes were placed around campus for canned food donations. The students are part of an organization known as the Gleason project which volunteers at the Gospel Center Rescue Mission and Gleason House Medical Center. In the past, the Gleason Project has presented educational materials on health topics such as smoking, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and diabetes. They’ve also hosted a health fair.Gleason House Holiday Card resized

Despite their busy schedules and upcoming finals, the students wanted to give back to the community. Heidi Chung ’17, event organizer, said, “As students, it’s easy to get lost in the frenzy of studying for finals and distance ourselves from the Stockton community. By hosting an outreach event for a local shelter, we hoped to provide an opportunity for students to take a break from studying and make a difference in the community.”

Opportunities to give back do not end with this effort. You can join the students in making a difference by volunteering your time at the center or making a donation. They are always in need of support.

The Gospel Center Rescue Mission aims to provide recovery programs, shelter and other resources to homeless individuals and families in Stockton. The Gleason House Medical Center provides health services to people in the programs, as well as homeless individuals in Stockton. Learn more by visiting http://www.gcrms.org/.


Student Pharmacists Kick Off American Pharmacists Month with Health Fair

Midtown Health Fair_resizedThe Pacific American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists (APhA-ASP) kicked off American Pharmacists Month with a health fair at Midtown Farmers Market in Sacramento. Student pharmacists from University of the Pacific’s Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences collaborated with students from California Northstate University College of Pharmacy to host the event which served over 120 patients and provided over 90 influenza vaccinations. Overall, the health fair reached approximately 500 people in the community.

In addition to providing screenings and vaccinations, the students promoted the profession of pharmacy by initiating the new patient testimonial program which surveyed patients’ perspectives on whether or not pharmacists served as a integral players on the health care team. The survey produced many positive results. One patient stated, “The only time I ever interact (with a pharmacist) is when I pick up my meds. Now that I’ve been able to talk to some, they are very educated, lovely, helpful people.” The students hope to continue this program to further promote the profession and use the information to improve their services.Midtown Health Fair - educational_resized

Event coordinator and current Vice President of Legislative Affairs, April Nguyen ’16, encouraged other students to implement projects they are passionate about, stating “I am excited to pursue my passion for pharmacy with our first APhA-ASP health fair in collaboration with two schools of pharmacy! I am proud to be a part of this profession, where every pharmacist can make a difference in the community with our dedication to improving patient care.” Overall, it was a very successful and educational health fair, and the students are excited to channel this momentum to host future events. Pacific APhA-ASP also held the Legislative Week at Pacific which included speaker events and immunizing the mayor and legislative members.


Pacific Student Pharmacists to Receive National Community Service Award

Pacific’s Medicare Part D program will be honored by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy for its effectiveness in expanding access to affordable healthcare and in improving public health.

The Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Medicare Part D program was one of only four student-led community engagement programs to receive the 2013-14 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP) Student Community Engaged Service Award, a national award sponsored by Teva Pharmaceuticals. The award will be presented on July 29 at the closing banquet of the 2014 AACP Annual Meeting. Winning programs were selected because they deliver important information about medication use to consumers and have been proven to expand access to affordable healthcare and improve public health.

RS42516_Kaiser Health Fair 2014 1Each year during the Medicare Part D open enrollment period (October 15–December 7), student pharmacists participate in an ongoing and multidimensional series of Mobile Medicare Health Clinics that enrich the lives and well-being of seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries in northern/central California. Held in 15 different cities over the past six years, these clinics are targeted to Medicare beneficiaries, the majority of whom are seniors, during the period when they can enroll into or switch their Part D prescription drug plan.

Dr. Rajul Patel ’01, ’06 is the faculty advisor for the program. The student team leader for this grant was Keira Domer ’14 and other student team members included Marise Awad ’14, Shu Lu ’14, Natalie Hajian ’14, Zohal Fazel ’14, Aaron Tran ’14, Janine Lastimosa ’14, Vittoria Ledesma ’14, and Kimberly Kwok ’14. Taking place concurrently with student education and training, faculty work with community partners, such as HUD-subsidized housing complexes, retirement communities and senior centers, to identify host sites for the mobile clinics. They are deployed in a variety of settings to help ensure that students and faculty are able to effectively reach underserved and under-represented populations.

Students provide core clinic services, such as helping patients effectively navigate the healthcare system, better understand their Part D prescription drug benefit, minimize out-of-pocket costs, optimize medication use and avoid vaccine-preventable diseases. In addition, students understand the role that pharmacists, prescribers, the federal government, insurance providers and pharmaceutical companies play in society’s healthcare.RTA_3292

In addition to receiving a commemorative prize, the winning pharmacy schools will each receive $10,000 to be used exclusively to support the expansion of the recognized program or new community engaged service projects at the school. Each team receives a $5,000 financial stipend for enhancing or sustaining the recognized program or for travel support to attend and present their projects at professional meetings. The award also includes a $1,000 stipend for the faculty advisor and up to $2,500 to cover travel, lodging, and registration expenses for one designated student and one faculty advisor to attend the 2014 AACP Annual Meeting.

Learn how students impact the community here.

About AACP
Founded in 1900, AACP is the national organization representing the interests of pharmacy education. AACP is comprised of all accredited colleges and schools with pharmacy degree programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, including more than 6,500 faculty, 62,500 students enrolled in professional programs and 5,100 individuals pursuing graduate study. Learn more: www.aacp.org.

Reprinted with permission from AACP.

Pacific Without Borders: an International Night

On June 19, 2014, the International Pharmaceutical Students Federation (IPSF) at University of the Pacific welcomed attendees to the Fourth Annual Pacific Without Borders International Night. Sponsored by the Flowers Heritage Foundation and attended by Pacific luminaries, the event was educational and entertaining.

ipsf country exhibit resizedDinner and the showcase of countries, which allowed guests the chance to explore the cultural exhibits, were first on the agenda. Walking the floor of the event allowed attendees an opportunity to sample cuisine and learn about countries ranging from the African, Asian, and European to the American continents. Posters and attendants dressed in the appropriate cultural outfits were on hand to discuss the fine points of each country represented.

A night of multi-cultural appreciation and outreach, the event continued with a rousing introduction on culture and understanding by keynote speaker and Pacific Vice President of Student Life, Patrick Day, who was introduced by the Director of the Multicultural Center, Sergio Acevedo. A lively fashion show followed, and it was a treat not just to the inquisitive mind but to the eye. Colorful ensembles including robes, skirts, gowns, and headdresses were shown. The full list of country exhibits included Ethiopia, Iran, Iraq, Ghana, Korea, Japan, Mexico, Guam, Caribbean, China, Italy, India, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The wide range of styles and cultures were beautifully showcased.

Following the crowd-pleasing fashion showcase were the cultural dance performances which certainly is a favorite at such events. Music and dance performances from groups representing China, Mexico, and everywhere in between took the stage to turn up the volume and show their pride. It was hard for attendees not to nod their heads and tap their feet to the beat of each act. Performers displayed choreographed steps in groups, duos and solos, dancing their unique dances in traditional outfits to traditional beats.ipsf fashion show resized

The Fraternity Cook-off Competition followed, and a hot culinary competition commenced. Judges for this event included Dr. Katerina Venderova, Dr. Ed Rogan, Dr. Myo-Kyoung Kim and Dr. Mamoun Alhamadsheh. A twist on the competition was that each fraternity had to incorporate the secret ingredients, mango and sweet potatoes, into their main dish. When the dust had settled and all dishes had been sampled, the Rho Pi Phi fraternity came out on top, though it was a close contest with a good showing for the field. The night concluded with raffles, and once prizes were awarded it was time for all to depart.

The Pacific Without Borders Planning Committee worked diligently to put this cultural event together. All the proceeds went to support a local charity, Gleason Clinic. The evening had the fine showing the event is known for and the committee looks forward to the fifth annual event as they continue this fine tradition into 2015 and beyond!


Student Pharmacists Host Carnival for Elementary Students

The Children’s Awareness Carnival began in 1991 with the American Heart Association “Jump Rope for Heart” program and has been held annually on campus for a number of years. On Thursday, May 1st, the Children’s Awareness Committee (CAC) invited 212 fifth grade students from Title I schools in the Stockton and Lodi Unified School Districts onto the pharmacy and health sciences (PHS) campus for an all-day event filled with engaging educational activities.

CAC 2 resizedThe morning portion consisted of indoor activities. The students split up into seven groups which rotated through seven stations, some of which included sheep heart dissections with the American Heart Association, smoking cessation and lung awareness with the American Lung Association, and an exercise and breakdancing activity organized by Kappa Psi. At the conclusion of the morning rotations, the students were then free to explore the carnival which was outdoors on the PHS lawn. With luau-inspired decorations, music, fire drill demonstrations, face painting, and much more, the kids had plenty of activities to learn about health-related topics, engage with their friends as well as with the volunteers, and win numerous prizes to take home. Although the students did not want to leave, the event ended around 1:45 p.m. and the buses headed home by 2 p.m.

Students engage in a stretching exercise.
Students engage in a stretching exercise.

The tradition of the Children’s Awareness Carnival continues annually because of the immense opportunity it gives to the students in the local community. The CAC is sometimes the first and possibly the only field trip that these students will experience, which is why the Committee strives to conduct such a large and all-inclusive event. With 28 participating student committees and organizations, we were able to encourage 140 student volunteers, not only from the pharmacy program but also from the dental hygiene and the speech-language pathology programs to participate. The Children’s Awareness Committee strives to make the carnival better each year, and we could not have done it without the support of the faculty, students, and especially our advisor, Dr. Denis Meerdink. The committee would also like to thank Rite Aid for their generous support. When asked about her favorite part of the Carnival, second year CAC co-chair, Jina Choi ’15, shared, “It’s so rewarding to see everything we’ve been working on all year finally come together and to see the kids absolutely love it.”


Dr. Larry Boles Creates Community Group to Benefit Aphasia Clients

Larry BolesAphasia is a condition that robs people of the ability to communicate and can affect one’s ability to express and understand verbal and written language. This condition is typically found in individuals who have suffered brain damage from illnesses such as a stroke, and affects more than two million individuals in the United States. Dr. Larry Boles, Associate Professor of Speech-Language Pathology (SLP), is creating a community group to help individuals who have been diagnosed with aphasia to regain their communication skills. “This group is a conversation group where individuals gather to share their stories in an attempt to regain conversations so that they can rebuild relationships with family and friends,” said Boles.

While providing therapy to a client, he noticed an increase in feedback and interactions from the client when he asked the client’s husband to give the cues for verb and noun pronunciations. This response inspired him to organize community groups. “Family members spend a lot of time with the client so it only makes sense to incorporate them into the therapy. And since then I’ve always encouraged couples therapy.”

The aphasia group will consist of clients who are already being seen at the Pacific Speech, Hearing and Language Center on campus. Many were referred to the group by former graduate students who were out on externships in area hospitals and clinics and by current SLP students working in the clinics. Dr. Boles also plans to have students lead the community group discussion, which gives students experiential learning opportunities.

“I’m hoping that with the students’ involvement in the community group they will gain a sense of humanity and gain confidence in conversation-based therapy and not rely solely on linguistic-based therapy,” said Dr. Boles, who anticipates seeing positive changes and an increase in “quality of life” in both the clients and students.

Dr. Boles has provided one-on-one therapy sessions to nearly 500 clients who have been affected by aphasia over the course of his career. He works closely with experts at the Aphasia Center of California in Oakland. Through this collaboration Dr. Boles says he is “fortunate to have access to other experts” in the field.

In addition to the community group, Dr. Boles has conducted research on “establishing alignment in aphasia couples therapy.” He found that when the spouse acts as the therapist, the clients can speak in longer phrases and have increases in elaboration and utterances. Dr. Boles presented this research at the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association (CSHA) Convention in March and will be presenting it again at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) Convention in November.

To learn more about aphasia, visit the National Aphasia Association at www.aphasia.org.