Have you ever wondered what it would be like to never hear your loved one speak a full sentence again? Unfortunately, that was the case for 1971 SJMC alumnus Murray Howard after his father was diagnosed with aphasia following a stroke. The experience eventually inspired Howard to reach out to The Carolina Agency at the SJMC with an idea to help people like his father get treatment.
Aphasia is a condition that impairs communication after events such as strokes or head injuries. It affects each person differently, and the symptoms can range from mild to severe. Howard’s father learned to dress himself again, eat at the table and even do math, but his speech never fully recovered.
Decades later, Howard and his brother didn’t think about aphasia much until they read an article in one of the university’s alumni magazines about Dr. Julius Fridriksson’s research at the University of South Carolina’s Aphasia Lab, where MRI and behavioral testing is used to learn more about aphasia recovery and treatment.
“Wow, there’s somebody actually working on this,” he said. “About this time, we had established scholarships at the CIC and business school, and one of our tours to the CIC included The Carolina Agency. I got to thinking about the Aphasia Lab and said, well, maybe The Carolina Agency could work with the Aphasia Lab because they were in need of materials and publicity.”
TCA is a student-run public relations agency that serves clients across the Southeast. In the fall 2020 semester, TCA created a strategic communications plan to help the lab do more community outreach, better reach their audience and raise awareness of the events they offer.
“The Carolina Agency has just been fabulous about building up our community outreach support and getting the word out,” said Lynsey Keator, a doctoral student who conducts research in the lab. “There are very few resources available to this population, so getting resources out that are accessible to people who have a language disorder has been really important, and it’s making professionals like speech language pathologists and neurologists knowledgeable that we exist and that we’re here.”
Throughout the spring semester, TCA continued to work with the lab to create graphics, social media content calendars and testimonial videos for people involved in the research at the lab. The main goal has been clear throughout the whole process — to build community outreach.
“The Carolina Agency has helped us really build up our social media platforms to help us promote our upcoming aphasia community event,” Keator said. “And they’ve really just brought to light some important things that we hadn’t even considered when distributing our media.”