Communication Disorders Graduate Students Seek to Raise Awareness of Stroke and Aphasia

March 20, 2013

Graduate students from the Department of Communication Disorders will hold two events during the month of April in order to raise awareness about stroke and aphasia. The students, in association with Dr. Stephen Jefferson, a stroke survivor and lecturer from the Department of Sports Management, and Dr. Jacquie Kurland, assistant professor of Communication Disorders, will be hosting a free screening of the award-winning documentary 9000 Needles on Saturday, April 13th. Additionally, in association with the UMass Amherst Police Department, the students will be holding The Fourth Annual Walk and Roll for Aphasia on Saturday, April 20th. In addition to raising awareness of stroke and aphasia, the events will raise funds for the Communication Disorders Department's aphasia research, outreach, and support services.

Although about 795,000 people in the U.S. will have a stroke this year, most people cannot identify stroke warning signs or risk factors, and many are unaware that most of those strokes are preventable. 9000 Needles demonstrates a first-hand account of stroke and its effects, providing viewers with a unique educational experience. Learning about stroke can help you act in time to save a co-worker, friend, or relative. Making changes in your lifestyle may also help to prevent stroke. (Source:

The screening of 9000 Needles will take place in the Campus Center Room 101 at UMass Amherst on Saturday, April 13th. Doors open at 1:30 pm. An introduction from local acupuncturist, Dr. Benjamin Feeley, will start at 1:45 pm, immediately followed by the screening of this 85-minute film. A question and answer session with Dr. Feeley will follow the screening. Donations will be accepted at the door to help fund this event and raise money for stroke and aphasia research at UMass Amherst.

Aphasia is a language disorder brought about by brain damage, most often following a stroke. It can impair the ability to use or understand spoken or written language. Aphasia is not a disorder of intelligence. It can greatly limit a person's participation in social, vocational, or recreational activities. In spite of the millions of people affected by stroke and aphasia, public awareness remains relatively low.

The Fourth Annual Walk and Roll for Aphasia will take place in Sweetser Park located in downtown Amherst on Main Street (across from the Amherst Police Station) on Saturday, April 20th. Check in begins at 10:00 am. The 2.6 mile walk, which will start at 11:00 am, will occur rain or shine. Afterwards, a raffle for gift cards and other prizes will take place.

Anyone interested is asked to join the walk, sponsor a walker, or provide a donation. Participants who raise over $100 in donations will receive an event t-shirt. To register, forms are available at Register in advance or on the day of the event. Registration forms and donations may be sent to Polly Stokes, Department of Communication Disorders, 358 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, MA 01003-9296. For more information, see the website, contact, or search for the event page on Facebook.