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Craig Hospital Aphasia Therapy (C.H.A.T.)

Aphasia is a language disorder that impacts a person’s ability to access, use, and/or understand language. It results from damage to the brain areas that promote production or understanding of language through various modalities (e.g., speaking, listening, writing, reading, signing, gesturing, etc.). On a practical level, aphasia can make it difficult for a person to communicate in many ways. For example, a person may struggle to speak in complete sentences when telling a friend about their weekend, have trouble finding the specific word he/she wants to say when ordering at a restaurant, have difficulty reading a friend’s Facebook status update, or be unable to write a text message to a family member. 

Program Summary 

The Craig Hospital Aphasia Therapy (C.H.A.T.) program offers specialized, intensive outpatient therapy for individuals with aphasia as a result of traumatic or other acquired brain injury. This evidence-based, specialized program will strive to improve the quality of life of persons living with this communication disorder and provide comprehensive, diverse, and patient-centered treatment approaches. 

Our mission is to provide an intensive, comprehensive, goal-oriented program to maximize the level of independence, quality of life, and self-efficacy of persons with aphasia. There are only a handful of intensive aphasia programs in the country, and the C.H.A.T. Program is one of only two intensive aphasia treatment programs west of the Mississippi River. Because the program clinician is bilingual, the C.H.A.T. program is able to serve both English and Spanish speakers.

Program Components

Patients will participate in a three (3) week intensive language program that includes pre and post assessment. The treatment program will consist of three (3) hours of individual speech-language therapy a day over the span of fifteen consecutive business days. The patient will receive a minimum of 15 hours/week with additional therapy options if appropriate. These therapies include speech-language group, neurogenic music therapyassistive technologytherapeutic recreation, and speech language therapy with a yoga emphasis. 

C.H.A.T. Goals

The goals of the C.H.A.T. Program are to improve the quality of life, independence, and self-efficacy of persons living with aphasia through the use of diverse, patient-centered treatment approaches.  Gains achieved include improvements in standardized test scores, story-telling abilities, and increased confidence and success when communicating with family and friends. Included in the program is care-giver training that teaches how to best support successful communication outside of the clinic.

Program Dates

The C.H.A.T. program will be offered ongoing, year-round. In one calendar year, 16 cycles of the
intensive aphasia program can be offered. 

Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria

Each patient will be screened for appropriateness of fit prior to acceptance into the program. The basic inclusion criteria for all applicants include:

• Must have an aphasia diagnosis
• Must be able to tolerate at least 3 hours of individual therapy/day.
• Must be able to say at least 4 single words independently
• Must be able to produce additional sounds and/or words with help
• Must have basic comprehension abilities (e.g., be able to follow simple directions)
• Must have 1-2 identified language goals that are specific and concrete

Treatment Principles 

While each person with aphasia is unique, research has demonstrated improvement in language
function following intensive therapy regardless of severity, type of aphasia, education, age, or stage of recovery. The C.H.A.T. program is built upon a variety of evidence-based treatment methods that target speaking, listening, reading, writing, and/or drawing. For example, Intensive Language Action Therapy (also known as Constraint Induced Aphasia Therapy), may be used to target speaking.

For more information, contact:
Kristen Mascareñas, MA, CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist
CHAT Program Coordinator
303-789-8126
KMascarenas@CraigHospital.org

Download the CHAT Program Brochure

Team Members

  • Kim Frey Director of Speech-Language Pathology

    Speech and Language Therapy

    Kim Frey, PhD, CCC-SLP, CBIS, is the Director of Speech-Language Pathology and joined Craig in 2013. She received her B.S. in Communication from the University of Tulsa in 1993, her M.S. in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1995, and a dual PhD in Cognitive Science and Speech, Language, & Hearing Sciences from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2013. For 14 years, she worked in inpatient neurologic rehabilitation and also researched cognitive impairment due to stroke, traumatic brain injury, and viral illness. Subsequently, she became an Instructor in the Neurobehavioral Disorders Program in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. In this program, she served as Director of the Constraint Induced Aphasia Therapy clinic and was also the study coordinator for a double-blind, placebo controlled pharmacologic and cognitive rehabilitation trial for persons with traumatic brain injury. She has presented nationally and internationally and published on several topics including neurobehavioral disorders following stroke, traumatic brain injury, and West Nile virus and also a water protocol for persons with dysphagia related to stroke.

  • Kristen Mascareñas Wendling Aphasia Program Coordinator, SLP

    Speech and Language Therapy

    Kristen Mascareñas Wendling, MA, CCC-SLP is the Craig Hospital Aphasia Therapy (CHAT) program coordinator and program clinician with nearly a decade of aphasia experience. Her bilingual certification allows her to work effectively with both English and Spanish speakers.