Sunday, June 20, 2010

eHI's Capitol Hill Event

The eHealth Initiative’s (eHI) June 14th event on Capitol Hill was held at the start of Health IT week. eHi is actively working to ensure patient engagement and patient access to information as an integral part of the health IT movement. A demonstration at the event showed how technology helps stroke survivors and enables health professionals provide good care at a distance.

Paul Berger, a stroke survivor and ePatient living in Virginia demonstrated how computers can connect stroke survivors so that they can receive treatment from their home. He fully embraces the computer to receive not only his own therapy but also to inspire other stroke survivors. He demonstrated in real-time how effectively using technology can help individual stroke survivors.

Paul’s journey started when he suffered a massive stroke from a ruptured aneurysm when he was only 36, which happened over 20 years ago. His stroke resulted in paralysis of his right side and aphasia but he was determined to live a full life which meant returning to work, taking part in volunteer activities, hobbies, and continue his desire to travel.

Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to portions of the brain that are responsible for language which for most people are areas on the left side of the brain. Aphasia usually occurs suddenly often as the result of a stroke or head injury, but it can also develop slowly as in the case of a brain tumor, infection, or dementia. Approximately 80,000 individuals acquire aphasia each year from strokes.

To Paul, tele-rehabilitation has made the difference. In Paul’s case, Bill Connors is a certified speech language pathologist specializing in combining technology, neuroscience, and learning theory with current evidence and research was able to help him by using telehealth technologies. Connors is Director of the Pittsburgh Aphasia Treatment Research and Education Center as well as founder of and as a professional in the field, he conducts individual and group sessions to help aphasia patients

The demonstration showed how a session actually works in real-time. To begin with, Bill and Paul located at a distance from each other were able to view each other and talk to each other in real-time using a two-way internet web-camera and computers. After the equipment was set up Paul was able to demonstrate how a session works with drills and practice exercises while Bill gave input and encouragement to Paul.

In addition, Bill also leads group sessions with up to five clients. In that case, the goals are to provide peer collaborative practice and drills, emphasize taking turns and listening skills, provide social support and networking, and practice treatment skills gained in individual sessions.

Paul is the award winning author of “How to Conquer the World with One Hand—And an Attitude” a book about his adventures after suffering his stroke. Also, Paul leads a very full live and works hard to connect with other stroke survivors through his web site, and publishes an e-newsletter, along with new e-books with tips on recovery.

For more information on the eHealth Initiative and their events, go to or call 202-624-3270.