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Aphasia Documentary Premieres in Boston

Aphasia Documentary Premieres in Boston

The premiere of After Words, a film on aphasia by Emmy Award-winning director Vincent Straggas, will debut at the Wang Center for Performing Arts, in Boston, MA, on June 1. The premiere culminates a year-long project for Straggas, who filmed people with aphasia in an initiative to raise awareness of the communication disorder that affects more than 1 million Americans.

Straggas filmed members of the Aphasia Community Group, which meets at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. Speech-language pathologist Jerome Kaplan founded the group in 1990, with the mission to provide support, education and advocacy for people affected by aphasia and to raise public awareness through the performing and fine arts.

The Stroke and Neurology Program at Spaulding treats more than 400 stroke survivors yearly. Many of these individuals have aphasia. Specialty resources of the program include a Young Adult Stroke Program, adaptive sports and recreation activities, and comprehensive outpatient rehabilitation service.

After Words also features Academy Award-winning actress Patricia Neal, Tony Award-winning actress Julie Harris, renowned mezzo-soprano Jan Curtis, and Joseph Chaikin, founder of the Open Theatre in the 1960s and author of The Presence of the Actor. All have battled aphasia following stroke and served as advocates for stroke rehabilitation.

"Having a stroke is hell on earth," said Neal, who was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for The Subject was Roses, the first film she did following a series of strokes in 1965. "You expect life to go superbly when all of a suddenÑcrash!Ñyou have nothing. You are robbed of so many of the normal functions in your life that you previously enjoyed: your vision, hearing, mobility, mental clarity, and basic ability to communicate. The most important part of having a stroke is the rehabilitation process which follows. Recovery takes an enormous amount of work, and spreading awareness about this process is vital."

Serving as chairs of the premiere are Josiah Spaulding, Jr., president and CEO of the Wang Center, and his wife, Joyce Spaulding. They will deliver opening remarks at the event. In addition, Curtis will sing, and the Aphasia Community Group will perform Other Voices of Aphasia, an original work by Judy Blatt, a founding member of the group.

For more information:

*Elizabeth Lutynski, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, (617) 573-2920


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