A community lifeline
Once a week, graduate students from Loyola’s speech-language pathology and audiology programs teach fitness classes at local senior centers. But instead of arm circles and leg lifts, the main exercises being done are brainteasers that flex cognitive skills such as memory and logical reasoning.
Brain fitness classes are just one facet of the Prevention and Rehabilitation of Brain Injury and Disorders program at the Loyola Clinical Centers (LCC), where clinical faculty, staff, and students work side by side to deliver highly integrated care to clients who are often unable to receive care anywhere else.
“Individuals who suffer from chronic neurological problems due to brain injuries or brain disorders often have chronic financial problems, too,” says Tom Thompson, CCC/SLP, program coordinator and clinical instructor in speech-language pathology. Many have lost their jobs or exhausted their insurance benefits, explains Thompson. “We’re providing services to folks who really need them, and we make it affordable by charging on a sliding scale.”
Integrated care, interdisciplinary learning
The LCC’s brain injury and disorders program takes an interdisciplinary approach that involves clinicians and graduate students in psychology, speech-language pathology, and audiology. Students gain valuable first-hand experience in their clinical areas and in collaborating with those in other specialties.
“When our speech-language students start off in the beginning of the semester, they don’t have much background in cognitive therapy, so they’re learning on the fly,” says Thompson. “By the end of the semester, they’ve learned to administer and interpret comprehensive evaluations and to report results and recommendations to our clients and their family members. It’s amazing to see how much they grow.”