A new research center at the University of Queensland dedicated to helping people with aphasia will change the journey of recovery for thousands of Australians and their families.
Aphasia, a condition affecting more than 140,000 Australians that affects a person’s ability to communicate and usually occurs after a stroke or head injury, recently came into the spotlight following the diagnosis of Hollywood actor Bruce Willis.
Launched today, the Queensland Aphasia Research Center (QRC) enables leading researchers and clinicians in the field of aphasia rehabilitation to develop innovative treatments that increase the use of technology and support individuals.
Thanks to a $1 million gift from the Bowness Family Foundation and $500,000 from an anonymous donor, the center was created in partnership with Metro North Health as part of the Education and Research Alliance for Surgery, Treatment, and Rehabilitation.
Professor David Copeland, director of Qatar Medical Center, said that people with aphasia often experience depression and social isolation, which can lead to a reduced quality of life.
“The experiences and opinions of people with aphasia are central to the center’s vision to ensure that the programs we develop are meaningful and relevant,” said Professor Copeland.
“An eight-week treatment program called CHAT is designed for individuals and is delivered in a variety of ways, including in the participant’s home via remote rehabilitation.”
CHAT participants showed significant improvements in their communication, confidence, and quality of life.
John and Bridget Noble experienced it right after Mr. Noble had a stroke.
“He had no numbers, no alphabet and he answered every question yes, but he had no idea what people were talking about,” Ms Noble said.
“The improvement in John’s speaking after the show has been tremendous.”
Mr. Noble said the program was excellent.
Bowness Family Foundation founder Bill Bowness said disability support was one of the foundation’s focus areas, including research and treatments for outreach because the issue was close to his heart.
“I stuttered my whole life. My father had a severe stroke and as part of that developed aphasia and could not speak. We want to help people whose lives have been affected by similar issues,” said Bowness.
Professor Copeland said the donors were the reason the center was able to expand the network of doctors and researchers across Australia to develop and deliver treatments that improve the lives of people with aphasia.
“These generous donations have allowed us to develop a community of more than 450 aphasia people, family members, researchers and clinicians, engage with more than 300 research participants, and work with more than 40 healthcare sites as part of our research.”
QRC is located in Surgery, Therapy and Rehabilitation Services, one of the largest specialized rehabilitation services in the Southern Hemisphere.