March 11, 2003


The first cycle at Rusk was very successful. Russ finally made progress understanding and accepting the fact that he has cognitive problems. Until he could see concrete evidence of his problems he didnít accept the fact that he had deficits and he wouldnít take any steps to improve them. It took testing and seeing others at Rusk with his same problems to make him aware that he needed help. He now has a better understanding of brain injury, which aspects of brain injury are most troublesome to him, and some strategies to help him deal with these deficits. He has also learned that brain injury is permanent but through the use of rehab strategies he can minimize the deficits and improve his skills. Rusk has done a great job beginning that process. We look forward to another successful cycle.


Russ is still in speech therapy. As with cognitive therapy speech is improving slowly. Russ has many words that he can say well. However, it sometimes takes saying something several times for him to get it right. The biggest problem is several sounds that he canít produce. Cís Kís Gís Rís all are very difficult but he is still working on it.


Russ has more problems with speech than just producing sounds. He has aphasia. Since Russ hasnít been able to talk his aphasia is not obvious. Aphasia is the inability to put thoughts into words. Some people are fully able to speak but canít put their thoughts into words. We have known Russ has this problem since he was at Kessler. We began communicating with him using scrabble letters and he was only able to put one and two word sentences together. This continues to improve and his ability to find words has been better than his ability to speak them or spell them out on the keyboard so it hasnít been a big issue. The most common way this problem becomes apparent is when his choice of words seems odd. Sometimes he will try to say something and he will choose unusual words to express himself. For example he wanted to talk about using a needle and thread but he couldnít think of the words needle and thread. So he said stick and wire. Even though Rusk does not give Russ speech therapy his first cycle at Rusk made a huge difference in his aphasia. By communicating in all his sessions every day his ability to put his thoughts into the keyboard has greatly improved.


Thanks for following Russ as he strives to regain his independence.