Lubbock’s pediatrician is among many with star power

LUBOOK, Texas (KCBD) – He made headlines last week when Bruce Willis’ family announced he was leaving his acting career due to a diagnosis of aphasia, a brain condition that affects speech and language.

Did you know that Texas Tech offers a program through its Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences that provides a huge impact on families here, who are living with the same problem.

It’s a stroke and aphasia recovery program known as the STAR Program.

I had the opportunity to tour the facility and get to know some of the wonderful patients going through the program.

However, I was quickly corrected because you don’t call them sick.

They are referred to as members.

“All of our members have had a stroke, brain injury, or neurological damage to cause some sort of language-related issue,” says Susan Snead, a speech pathologist and teacher in the program.

Among the members, she was introduced to Philip Alexander, a former school teacher, who had a car accident that ended his career. Ladonna Elam suffered a stroke. Esther Moses also suffered a stroke. Sharon Reese had five strokes that left her paralyzed. Sylvia Lewis had a brain aneurysm. Rene Collazo had a stroke.

I was surprised to find out that I’ve known one of the other members for a very long time.

Dr. Glenn Burris, a retired pediatrician, was one of my favorite interviewers when he had a private practice many years ago. His wife, Cindy, told me his life changed in 2018. “He was completely paralyzed on the right side because it was a left-sided stroke,” she says. She describes it as a miracle that he was able to relearn how to walk. Now, he continues to work on restoring his speech and language with the help of Dr. Melinda Corwin, Ph.D., Star Program Director.

I hope you will watch this story to gain insight into the many stages of recovery if aphasia occurs after a brain injury or stroke. As Susan explains, “Aphasia is a loss of language, not intelligence.”

The Star Program meets every Tuesday and Thursday at TTUHSC. Members are divided into groups according to their skill level. Coaches become friends and encourage progress while others watch and learn from observation windows.

Meanwhile, Dr. Corwin is excited about another opportunity for members that increases every year. STAR Summer Arts Camp includes 2 weeks of intensive art recovery, 4 hours per day. She says, “Studies have shown that all arts, performing arts, singing, movement, all help the brain re-engage.”

Best wishes to all of my new friends and to Dr. Boris, in the hope of making great progress on your journey towards recovery.

For more information about the STAR program or summer camp for the arts, call (806) 743-5670.

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