Brunswick resident and three-time stroke survivor Tom Broussard will be hosting a public talk about aphasia this month in Brunswick, Bath and Bowdoinham. C. Thacher Carter / The Times Record

The last moment that Brunswick local Tom Broussard remembered before having his first stroke in 2011 was looking at his shoes.

Except for a few glimpses along the way, Broussard said the next thing he knew he was lying in a bed at Massachusetts General Hospital two days later.

“They told me I had aphasia,” Broussard, now a three-time stroke survivor, said.

A decade later, Broussard has traveled the country with the goal of answering the question: What is aphasia? He will be speaking in Brunswick, Bath and Bowdoinham this month to help educate the public.

Aphasia is a cognitive condition that occurs in about 30-40% of stroke survivors, resulting in impaired speaking, writing and reading. June is National Aphasia Awareness Month.

According to the National Aphasia Association, the communication disorder impacts over 2 million Americans, and is more common than Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy. Nearly 180,000 Americans acquire the disorder each year.


A 2020 survey showed that, out of 1,001 people surveyed from across America, only 7% of respondents had heard of aphasia and could identify it as a language disorder. According to another study conducted by Broussard, 20 out of 23 public hospitals in Florida have no educational online information about aphasia on their website, although many of them treat it.

Broussard said that when he went home from the hospital, he was given an informational piece of paper with one line about aphasia.

“The health care community and hospital community, they understand about aphasia, they don’t really think about aphasia,” Broussard said, however praising Mid Coast Hospital’s program. “Unfortunately, that’s a problem.”

Since his first stroke, Broussard has written four books about aphasia, including his “Stroke Diary” books, a three-part series which documents his journey towards recovery.

“The secret of everything when it comes to aphasia, is persistent and repetitive language activities with the reading, writing, speaking and other things,” Broussard added.

According to Mid Coast Hospital’s Inpatient Speech-Language Pathologist Cuyler Goodwin Greene, aphasia awareness month is crucial in teaching community members about the disorder.


“Sadly, living with aphasia can be isolating, as social interactions are challenging and often frustrating,” Greene said. “Tasks as simple as ordering a meal at a restaurant or as meaningful as saying ‘I love you’ to a grandchild can become daunting.”

Greene also said that due to the very nature of the disorder, it can often be hard for people with aphasia to advocate for themselves.

At Mid Coast Hospital, Greene said that the hospital offers patients an evaluation by an expert, and if the patient is experiencing aphasia due to stroke, therapy is provided during the hospital stay. After the hospital stay, the therapy plan usually results in a transfer to a rehabilitation center or a nursing facility.

Greene also said that, before the COVID-19 pandemic, an in-person support group guided by professionals were available to patients. Now that the pandemic is easing, Greene added, the meeting will likely return.

Tom Broussard’s four books regarding aphasia. C. Thacher Carter / The Times Record

The first presentation will take place in Brunswick on Wednesday, June 9 at 1 p.m. at the gazebo in downtown. In Bath, the presentation will take place on June 16 at 1 p.m. at the Bath Park Library. Lastly, in Bowdoinham, Broussard will present on June 23 at 1 p.m. at the Mailly Waterfront Park.

Before his work to raise awareness of aphasia, Broussard earned his PhD from Brandies University and served as the school’s Associate Dean. Broussard also serves as the vice president of the National Aphasia Association.

For more information visit Broussard’s website,

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