research that approached investigation of aphasia from a linguistic, theory-based Very informally, Broca’s aphasia can be characterized as a language. Aphasia is a complex impairment resulting from damage to the brain. It a ffects a person’s use and understanding of speech, writing and other forms of. Individuals can have high level aphasia or severe, low level aphasia. severe or slight the impairment, aphasia is frustrating for the patient and for the caregiver.

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Although they are perfectly capable of reading and writing, they have trouble with vocabulary recall, or thinking up words on the spot, which makes it difficult for them to follow and participate in conversation. In MayMcFadden was referred to Dr. They begin to seem more withdrawn and more extensive memory deficits become apparent such as increasing difficulty in recalling events or conversations.

He would stop mid sentence, unable to recall the word he needed. In retrospect, Homer now recognizes that McFadden was struggling with dementia, but she was perplexed by his behaviour at the time. View in Web Browser. He is still a pretty independent person. McFadden was a writer who was losing the words he needed for his craft, but managed to write a complete book of award-winning poetry. But when asked what he hopes to gain from the experience, signs of his aphasia become apparent and he struggles to elaborate: Therefore, the research will also look at the barriers and obstacles that prevent these patients from exercising regularly and how to overcome them.


It is a small but poignant display of how aphasia is affecting McFadden and how he, and Homer, are learning to live with it.

A poet loses his words. Above, award-winning poet David McFadden, who is losing his words due to dementia, and his partner, Merlin Homer.

McFadden is the first participant in a study led by Tartaglia that will look at the effects of aerobic exercise on people already affected by dementia. Patients with this type of aphasia often give the impression of being confused.

Early on, people with aphasia — especially those with extensive vocabularies — can compensate by word substitution. It first manifested itself as confusion when it came to words, something that many people normally chalk up to the aging process.

Life with dementia: A poet loses his words

But what no one could have aphassia was that McFadden was actually being literal. Homer, who sometimes accompanies McFadden to his sessions, stepped in to help with a suggestion. For six months, he will go to Toronto Western Hospital three times a week for a 40 minute session of aerobic exercise.

Another book of haikus written over his lifetime is expected to be released next spring. But as the illness progresses, it becomes more apparent as the fietype get shorter, sometimes down to “yes” or “no” answers only. In addition to helping lessen the effects aphasa vascular disease, increase blood flow and increase blood vessels, there is some evidence that molecules released during aerobic activity may be beneficial for forming connections in the brain.


On a recent visit to Toronto Western Hospital for his exercise session, McFadden said that his reasons for participating in the study were that he thought it would be a good idea and that he is happy to do so.

Life with dementia: A poet loses his words

He continues to do public readings of his work at various literary festivals. McFadden can still write and continues to have new ideas for poems. Eventually, however, his partner — Merlin Homer, a visual artist — noticed that McFadden often needed information to be repeated to him, that he was forgetting appointments, was misplacing or losing things and had difficulty concentrating.