Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Stroke victim who's learning to speak again by singing vows public speaking career

Lots of singers who also are public speakers and presenters will tell you they see a strong connection between singing and speaking. But so do the medical professionals who work with stroke victims to help them regain the power of speech.

NPR reporter Richard Knox dove into the science behind how singing can help patients relearn speaking after a stroke. Noting that we've known for more than a century that a stroke can leave you speechless yet still able to sing, he looked at "what may be the first rigorous trial of singing therapy." This former public speaker is one of the subjects:

Debra Meyerson, 54, is a volunteer in that study. Her aphasia is a cruel twist of fate. Meyerson is an expert in gender and race relations who was a dynamic and popular speaker before her stroke. After a year of conventional speech therapy, she couldn't speak more than a word or two....By next Labor Day — the second anniversary of her stroke — Meyerson wants to start public speaking again, this time as an advocate for better stroke care.
This story offers a fascinating breakdown of the components we take for granted as speakers--components that are lost to strokes and must be brought back, one part at a time, from the motor nerves that help you sense the rhythms of speech, to the tonal qualities in inflection, to how fast you are able to download what you're trying to say from your brain to your mouth.

I'll have an eye open for that speech Debra Meyerson is planning to give--I have a hunch it's perfect for our Famous Speech Friday series, don't you agree? You can hear the audio of this exciting story here.


Looking for famous speeches by women? Check out The Eloquent Woman Index of Famous Women's Speeches, with a wide variety of women speakers, types of speeches and topics to inspire your next speech. Each one comes with lessons for speakers, plus video or audio and a transcript, where available.