WMU Home > WMU News >

WMU News

Special program puts spotlight on aphasia

Sept. 21, 2008

KALAMAZOO--A documentary film that explores the life of an advertising executive after he suffers a major stroke will be shown during a special program on aphasia at Western Michigan University.

Open to the public free of charge, the program also will include the performance of original songs and a discussion led by songwriter Marc Black, whose music served as a springboard for the documentary's filming. The event is being presented by the Aphasia Communication Enhancement Program of the WMU Charles Van Riper Language, Speech and Hearing Clinic from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2, in the Fetzer Center.

The film, "Stroke of Genius," and Black's music were inspired by the experience of Dan Mountain, one of Los Angeles' premier advertising creative directors.

Mountain suffered a massive, debilitating stroke that left him with aphasia, a communication disorder that impairs a person's ability to read, speak and understand language. As part of his struggle to put his life back together and work through his aphasia, he wrote poems. Black, his songwriting friend and recording artist, put those poems to music and, with help from the likes of Art Garfunkel, John Sebastian, Steve Gadd and the Dixie Hummingbirds, recorded a CD, also titled "Stroke of Genius."

Inspired by Mountain's courage and by the recording, filmmaker Bahman Soltani produced a documentary film about the story. Reviewed early on as "a melodic exploration that takes the listener on an odyssey shimmering with humor and light," "Stroke of Genius" has since won the support of the National Stroke Association and the National Aphasia Association.

Black will speak about what the lyrics meant to Mountain and how creativity helped Mountain in his recovery. There will also be an opportunity for questions and sharing among participants in the aphasia program, family, friends and audience members.

The event is funded in part by a grant from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation/John E. Fetzer Institute Fund and is intended to raise awareness about stroke and aphasia, promote the active participation of individuals with aphasia in family and community life and bring people of all ages and abilities together to learn that meaningful, purposeful and authentic lives can be built after a stroke.

According to the American Stroke Association, on average, every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke. About 780,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke. About 600,000 of these are first attacks and 180,000 are recurrent attacks.

The Charles Van Riper Language, Speech and Hearing Clinic and the Aphasia Program are part of WMU's College of Health and Human Services' Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology and its Unified Clinics. For more information about the film and music, visit strokeofgenius.org or marcblack.com.

For more information on the event, contact Sandra Glista, WMU master faculty specialist in speech pathology and audiology, at (269) 387-8064.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

WMU News
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA
(269) 387-8400