Their Own Words: Reflections from stroke survivors with aphasia

Tom Gilbert, MD, MPH was a family physician for 25 years when he had a stroke in 1999. A malformation of vessels in his brain burst and he had a massive brain hemorrhage. The stroke affected the left side of his brain and the right side of his body.  Tom underwent a long and laborious rehabilitation process. Learn more about Tom’s story here. One of the side effects of his stroke was aphasia. Aphasia is caused by stroke or brain injury, and causes difficulty in remembering words, speaking, reading, and writing.

Tom is no longer a practicing physician, but he is actively conducting research on aphasia. Along with Joanne Wilkinson, MD, MSc, Tom has longitudinally followed 12 stroke survivors with aphasia. Patients and their partners underwent semi-structured interviews, which were then coded and analyzed using qualitative methods from grounded theory. Tom and Joanne have conducted over 45 interviews to date, resulting in over 650 pages of transcribed data. Learn more about their findings here.

Tom and Joanne have compiled their research on aphasia into an interactive 60 minute presentation entitled “Their Own Words.” This presentation is appropriate for hospitals, universities, and community centers. This presentation is appropriate for continuing medical education approved events such as grand rounds.

Objectives of the presentation are:

1)Understand the scope of long-term implications of aphasia after stroke.

2) Appreciate aspects of physician-patient communication with patients who have aphasia.

3) Understand the role of primary care physicians in treating patients with communication disorders.

See our calendar for upcoming events or email us at to schedule a presentation.


This research is made possible by support from the American Academy of Family Physicians and the Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare. We would also like to thank faculty advisors Barbara Bokhour, PhD and Larry Culpepper, MD, MPH (Boston University) and Lynn Brady Wagner (Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital).