By Mike Schuh

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—There are estimates that 100,000 Americans each year lose their ability to speak, oftentimes after a stroke or other brain damage. Long term treatment is expensive and often not covered by insurance.

Mike Schuh reports there is now a free center in Baltimore that is changing lives.

A stroke a decade ago left Howard Snyder struggling with aphasia.

“I was wishing there was a place where stroke survivors who had aphasia could go,” said Judi Snyder.

Judi is Howard’s wife. She learned his mind was fine, but the pathway allowing speech is all but gone.

“Their thoughts are still there. Their intelligence is still there. They just can’t get it out. They’re trapped,” Judi Snyder said.

Judi and speech therapist Denise McCall started an aphasia center to help, as therapy usually stops once the medical response to the stroke is complete.

“All of a sudden, social isolation comes in, depression comes in, and these folks disengage from community. Friends stop coming around because it’s hard to speak to them,” McCall said.

In history teacher Russell De Hart’s life, the spoken word was his foundation.

“I retired,” he said.

His aphasia is considered mild.

The Snyder Center for Aphasia Life Enhancement , or SCALE, has helped him speak better and feel better about himself.

“They’re OK. I’m OK. We kind of can come here, and we don’t have to deal with anything. No one is judging you here. Right? No one is judging me,” De Hart said.

Remember Howard Snyder?

Training and technology at SCALE allows him to give a welcome speech to Mark Kelly, the husband of representative Gabby Giffords, who after being shot in the head has aphasia.

Kelly is hosting a fundraiser on Monday to help this center to continue its work.

That fundraiser is Monday night at the Beth El congregation. Click here for more information.


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