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The Texas Woman’s University Stroke Center - Dallas marks its 20th year of providing treatment and training in neurological rehabilitation for stroke.

Hundreds of people from throughout the United States have been treated for language and motor deficits following stroke since the center’s inception in 1992.  Originally called The TWU Aphasia Center, the name was changed in 1998 to The Stroke Center - Dallas to be more inclusive.  The center moved into its current location in the TWU T. Boone Pickens Institute of Health Sciences Center - Dallas when the facility opened in 2011.

In addition to providing rehabilitation for language and motor deficits as a result of stroke, the center is home to innovative brain-based treatments for aphasia (using medical treatments and non-invasive electrical brain stimulation combined with speech and language therapy).  The center also serves as a training ground for students in the health science disciplines.  TWU graduate students in speech language pathology, physical therapy, occupational therapy and nursing gain clinical experience by providing treatment for clients under the close supervision of professionals in their fields.

“We are preparing professionals for the future,” said Dr. Delaina Walker-Batson, TWU professor of communication sciences and disorders and director of the TWU Stroke Center - Dallas.  “Our students observe the assessment and treatment sessions of research participants, which helps the students to be more aware of how to diagnose and treat various speech and language deficits.”

Dr. Walker-Batson is recognized internationally for her studies on the use of drug treatment paired with language therapy to accelerate the rate of recovery after a stroke.  She has received funding from a number of foundations and government agencies, including the James B. Shannon Award for Outstanding Biomedical Research from the National Institutes of Health. “The Stroke Center – Dallas has been an outgrowth of the research and something of which we are all proud,: she said. “I am committed to continuing this work.”

As the center enters its 20th year, researchers will continue to conduct neuromodulation studies with noninvasive brain stimulation using transcranial cortical stimulation (tDCS) for both aphasia and upper extremity deficits.  Genetic analyses also have been added to the tDCS aphasia study.  Dr. Jyutika Mehta, TWU assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders, will begin exploring electrophysiological changes with evoked potentials to determine if speech and language therapy alters neural patterns of speech and language representation in the brain.

Behind the science are the clients and those who are determined to help them. “This is such a hopeful place,” Dr. Walker-Batson said.  “This is an academic setting, not a hospital, and I think being with young students changes the tone.”

The average age of participants at the center is 52.  Though it can be difficult to see their struggles, Dr. Walker-Batson said, the center’s clients are motivated, dedicated to their therapy and exhibit a positive attitude. “I am always astounded at their courage,” she said.  “It is incredible to see how the patients and their families cope.”

The past 20 years of research at the TWU Stroke Center - Dallas has produced positive outcomes for participants, which in turn has been rewarding to those who provide the care, Dr. Walker-Batson said.  “It’s gratifying to see people get their lives back.”

page updated 1/30/2014 10:14 AM