Aphasia Center Manager Wins Prestigious Innovator Award

Clinical Expertise

Apr 13, 2021

Jodi Morgan, CCC-SLP, Manager of the Brooks Rehabilitation Aphasia Center (BRAC), was recently honored with the Aphasia Access Innovator Award. This prestigious honor is awarded once every two years “to recognize the incredible work of service providers who have considered the Life Participation Approach to Aphasia (LPAA) development from a novel and diverse perspective and have addressed challenges in a creative and innovative manner.”

The award was presented virtually at the 2021 Aphasia Access Leadership Summit by previous award recipients. Ms. Morgan’s nominators shared that she has “dedicated her life to advocating for her friends with aphasia. Whether she is working in the community or intensive comprehensive program at the Brooks Rehabilitation Aphasia Center, outpatient therapy, one-on-one with people who have experienced stroke or brain injury, or at Jacksonville University where she teaches and mentors graduate students, every moment is imbued with passion, kindness and excellence.”

“I am honored and humbled to receive the Aphasia Access Innovator Award. It is my passion and privilege to help and learn from my friends with aphasia. Special thanks to my dedicated BRAC team for all they do every day to change lives,” said Ms. Morgan.

In her acceptance speech, she shared a story of working with an “inspirational, kind and smart” man with aphasia. After 12 therapy sessions, she had to inform him that his insurance would no longer cover his therapy. He asked her with tears in his eyes, “what now?” That simple question led Ms. Morgan on a new path.

In 2013, Brooks Rehabilitation invited employees to submit innovative ideas that fill a gap and improve the patient or employee experience. In response to the question from her patient and countless others, Ms. Morgan saw a need for a community-based center for people with aphasia to come together, have conversation and learn how to live successfully with aphasia. Together with another speech-language pathologist, a neuropsychologist and an occupational therapist, she presented the idea of a comprehensive center offering both a community track and intensive, comprehensive aphasia program. The idea won the crowdsourcing initiative, and she spent the next two years researching and planning. She and her co-founder traveled both nationally and internationally to learn about other aphasia centers as well as getting specialized training to implement LPAA and communication partner training with people in the community. The BRAC opened in May 2016. Within a year of opening, the program was at capacity and has remained there ever since.

Ms. Morgan also recently paired with Lisa Edmonds, PhD, CCC-SLP, Director of the Aphasia Rehabilitation and Bilingualism Research Lab at Columbia University, for longitudinal research to show the efficacy of aphasia centers in the United States. Their goal is to demonstrate the value of aphasia centers and community-based aphasia groups to insurance providers. In addition, Ms. Morgan is advancing communication access initiatives throughout the Brooks Rehabilitation system of care. She is implementing a specialized communication training program for inpatient registered nurses and all healthcare support staff. This training will increase successful communication between patients with aphasia or other communication disorders and their healthcare providers.

Ms. Morgan’s team at the BRAC shares, “People with and without aphasia all say the same thing. They love Jodi Morgan. She spends her life helping others regardless of their race, gender, religion, or creed. Jodi finds a way to spark human connection with anyone she meets and immediately conveys to that person a sense of their worth and value. Her joy and passion for people with aphasia emanates from within her and she continues to be a bright light guiding those on the road of healing.”