Finding Your Voice Again

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By University Communications

Having a stroke or a traumatic brain injury can make you feel like a foreigner in a strange land. Your cognition may still be fully intact, but sometimes you just can’t speak the language.

After a stroke, most individuals need speech therapy, which is offered free at Missouri State University’s Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic. With this therapy, clients often recoup much of their language. If not, many find it difficult to engage in everyday social situations. They feel embarrassed and become isolated.

Brick City is featuring a new exhibit, “Language and Art: Facilitating Expression and Social Participation through Visual Media.” Clients from the clinic produced the work with guidance from students in the department of art and design with support from graduate students in the communication sciences and disorders department.

“It represented an opportunity to try something new out of their comfort zone,” said Jennifer Pratt, clinical associate professor of communication sciences and disorders at Missouri State. “It was empowering to see them express themselves in a different way and to feel capable with something new, which is not an opportunity that they often get.”

The yearlong collaboration provided a new socialization opportunity for the clients, which is a primary goal of the groups they participate in.

“There was a big focus on self-identity and expressing who they were through this visual medium,” Pratt said. “There was some resistance at first. They were kind of like, ‘Oh, I’m not an artist. I don’t want to do this or I’m not going to be good at it.’”

While working on developing these new forms of expression has been therapeutic for most, Pratt stresses that it was not art therapy.

“I really wanted to focus on them having a new interest or hobby and socially engaging in a different way,” she said. “But I do think it’s still therapeutic.”

The exhibit is on display through March 27. The artists’ reception will be held 2-3:15 p.m. March 21. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Brick City Gallery, located at 215 W. Mill Street, Springfield, Mo. is open Monday through Friday 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday.