Podcast | Episode 1: Speech Therapy & Aphasia with Jodi MorganClinical Expertise
Aug 12, 2019
Michelle Orallo: My name is Michelle Orallo.
Tracy Davis: We’re really excited to have Jodi on today.
Michelle Orallo: Jodi is the manager of the Brooks Rehabilitation Aphasia Center. She’s also a clinical assistant professor in communication, sciences, and disorders, and a speech language pathologist at Jacksonville University. She received a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology from Michigan State University, a bachelor’s in education from Michigan State University and a master’s degree in speech pathology from Michigan State University. Her specialization includes treating adults with neurogenic disorders, including aphasia, dysphasia, cognitive communication disorders in voice disorders. Her research interests include aphasia, aphasia rehabilitation and swelling disorders.
Tracy Davis: Yeah. And we’re really excited to have her on as our first guest. I apologize ahead of time because within the podcast, I actually said University of Michigan, but it’s actually Michigan State. So ,my apologies to all the Michigan State fans out there and to Jodi for saying the wrong, the wrong place. So, thanks for doing this, we really appreciate it. And especially being our first guest on the official Brooks Rehabilitation podcast. And I think everyone is going to be really interested to hear this topic because a lot of people don’t know your story. They don’t know what aphasia is. I love telling people more about what speech therapy is in general. We did another video about that last month for better hearing and speech month. But if you could just introduce yourself a little bit from how you got into speech therapy, what got you that interest, and then at the beginning of the show, we’ll read what your background.
Michelle Orallo: Sure.
Tracy Davis: We got it off JU’s websites. We’ll read your bio with your numerous degrees, but yeah, tell us a little bit about you.
Jodi Morgan: Yeah, well I’m Jodi Morgan and I’m honored. I didn’t know I was actually the first one, so I feel so special.
Tracy Davis: You are.
Jodi Morgan: So, if I mess up, this is going to be, yeah, it’s over.
Tracy Davis: That’s right, we’re going to cancel it.
Jodi Morgan: Yeah. So, I’m just honored to talk about speech pathology and aphasia and what I do just because I’m so passionate about it. I got interested in speech pathology, probably back, honestly in eighth grade. I knew I wanted to do something to help other people. I’ve been a helper, so to speak my whole life. And that’s just what makes me happy. So, my father has a severe hearing loss bilaterally, and he had some problems with communication when his hearing aids weren’t working properly. And I just saw how communication can adversely affect someone’s life. So, I think from that age on, I wanted to do something either in the medical field or in speech pathology. And hence, that’s why I went on to become a speech pathologist.
Tracy Davis: Wow. Okay. And you, so you went into college immediately knowing that, that’s what you wanted to do.
Jodi Morgan: It’s in my eighth grade scrap book that I wanted to be a speech pathologist. Yeah.
Tracy Davis: Wow. And so, you went to University of Michigan, are you from up there?
Jodi Morgan: So, I’m going to correct that because there’s a big difference. So, I actually graduated from Michigan State.
Tracy Davis: Michigan State? Okay. I’m bad with colleges.
Jodi Morgan: Michigan State. I actually did…
Tracy Davis: State of this university, of that. I’m bad with it.
Jodi Morgan: It’s like saying someone from Florida went to Florida state or vice versa. So there’s that little bit that goes on, I did go to U of M for some classes, but I’m a Michigan State fan all the way.
Tracy Davis: All the way.
Jodi Morgan: Yeah.
Tracy Davis: Okay.
Jodi Morgan: So, I went to Michigan state and then I got a couple of degrees there. And then I went on to grad school at Western Michigan University.
Tracy Davis: Yeah. Wow. That’s amazing. How long have you been doing speech therapy now?
Jodi Morgan: A long time, that will reveal my age, but let’s just say it’s been a long time. No, actually over 25 years.
Tracy Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative). It just shows how… And that’s why you’re such an expert in the field because… And nowadays you’re traveling all over the place and speaking at different conferences about speech therapy and aphasia.
Jodi Morgan: Yeah. I’ve been really, really blessed. It’s been really exciting because what we’re doing at Brooks is very unique. So that has really promoted a lot of interest in the nation about what we’re doing. And so, it’s been exciting for me. I just got back from a clinical, a physiology conference that was in Montana. I just spoke in New Mexico. I’m speaking, hopefully at Asher and Orlando this year. We’ve been doing lots of presentations. We went to Dallas for the ACRM conference last year. We did some speech therapy and music therapy with Danielle Porter here, we presented. So, we we’ve been really spreading the word.
Tracy Davis: Wow. What brought you to Brooks in the first place?
Jodi Morgan: So, I was at University of Iowa. I was a professor at university of Iowa, and I have my sister lives here in Jacksonville. And we came to Jacksonville. And I actually was looking to go to University of Florida, believe it or not to be a professor there. But then I found Brooks and I loved their patient center focus. I loved that they had some research initiatives and just decided they were just really had the right motive for their patients and they really wanted to help. And so I took my first job with Brooks and I haven’t looked back.
Tracy Davis: How long have you been with Brooks now?
Jodi Morgan: I knew you were going to ask that. I was thinking about that on the way over here.
Tracy Davis: Because it’s been a long time.
Jodi Morgan: It’s been a long time. So, it’s been 16 years.
Tracy Davis: Okay. Wow. And then you started directly in outpatient?
Jodi Morgan: So, I did. I was actually in outpatient in Orange Park. So, I started over in Orange Park and then pretty quickly after that, they offered me the management position. So, I was the manager in Orange Park for a while.
Tracy Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jodi Morgan: And then we moved all the way over to Ponte Vedra, and the drive was really rough. And so it opened up a position for a research speech pathologist. Again, wonderful thing about Brooks, there’s a lot of opportunities. And then I started doing halftime between research and then working in San Pablo clinic.
Tracy Davis: Okay. Yeah. And that’s where I knew you from San Pablo.
Jodi Morgan: Yeah.
Tracy Davis: Because that clinic has a lot of speech therapy.
Jodi Morgan: They do. It’s a wonderful clinic. And it’s my favorite group. They’re a great group over there. So, shout out to San Pablo.
Tracy Davis: Yeah. And I haven’t made it over there in a while. But it’s a great, great location where they’re up to. You also teach JU, how did you get involved with teaching again? Did you always want to go back to teaching again?
Jodi Morgan: I love teaching. I absolutely love speech pathology. So for me, my favorite things are being with the patients and then also teaching students and planting the seed of passion within them because I so strongly believe in speech pathology and what we do. So that’s quite a few years ago where I knew the area did not have a speech pathology school. And we had a nice presence for physical therapy and then occupational therapy at the time was in St. Augustine. And we were having… As a manager, I was seeing a lot of difficulties hiring good solid speech pathologist at Brooks.
Tracy Davis: Okay.
Jodi Morgan: So, I talked to Michael Spiegel, Doug Baer, and a lot of other people about a speech pathology school. And I was friends with now provost, Chris Sapienza who’s at Jacksonville University and we were friends and we started talking about developing a program at Jacksonville University. We worked together with Brooks and many meetings, and many collaborations later, they developed the Brooks Rehabilitation college of health science and the speech pathology program. And now there’s wonderful programs underneath there, including a mental health program, kinesiology, they have an occupational therapy program. So I think it’s done a lot of wonderful things and I still do teach.
Tracy Davis: You do. Yeah. And we were really lucky here in Jacksonville where we have quite a few colleges with really good health care programs, especially JBU being one of the top levels of that. They’re fantastic. All the nursing programs, every healthcare program they have is top-notch. And so, how long have you been teaching there or how does it split your week up if you, you treat for X number of time than you still teach?
Jodi Morgan: They’re great because they really support me. So, I usually teach one class per semester today. In fact, as soon as I’m done with this, I’m headed over to teach. So, I usually teach one, three or four credit class a semester. And a lot of times what they’ll do is they’ll put my classes at night. So, I can be at the aphasia center pretty heavily during the day, and then I’ll teach a 4:00 to 7:00 class.
Tracy Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s awesome. Are you teaching? Is it the same class you teach each time or what’s the topics?
Jodi Morgan: So I teach adult language disorder. Of course, I teach the aphasia course, which is wonderful. And I always teach like a cognitive course. So, then I teach courses on cognition, traumatic brain injury, dementia, primary, progressive aphasia. So how to treat the cognitive communication disorders, assimilated with those disorders as well.
Tracy Davis: Okay. Wow, that’s amazing. Let’s say we need so much more of that. As people continue to need more care, we need more educated people that know what they’re doing to help.
Jodi Morgan: Yeah. And Jay is really great about they really care about the clinician. So for example, Daniel Erdman, who’s a Brooks speech pathologist comes in and teaches the acute care portion of it in my class. She guests speaks and things like that. So, it’s really cool because a lot of the professors are still hands-on with the patient. I think JU is research driven, but they also have really good professors that know how to treat clinically. So, I think it’s a great combination at JU.
Tracy Davis: Sure.
Michelle Orallo: And so how did the Brooks Aphasia Center come about?
Jodi Morgan: So this has been a dream of mine for a long time, and it was just interesting because it was not, of course my vision only. We started talking about it. I actually walked into the office of Flo Singletary who was the research manager at the time. And I was telling her a story about how I was working in outpatient. And there was a young man who was about 42 years old, super, super smart. He was musically talented and he had severe aphasia and aphasia again is a language disorder that affects your language, but not your intellect. And he was sitting across from me in his 20 outpatient therapy sessions were over and done. And I’m like, “Well, that’s it.”
And he looks at me and he got these huge tears in his eyes. And he said, “Jodi, now what?” And I knew at that moment that Brooks had a lot of wonderful things, but I knew wholeheartedly that we had a missing piece because I had nothing else for him. And there were no research protocols for someone with aphasia at the time, there was nothing else for him. And literally all I could do is just send him home with a homework packet.
So, I was speaking about this with Flo Singletary and I said, “I really want to develop a center for people with aphasia.” And she looked at me, she’s like, “I’ve been saying that for years.” And so we started talking about it more. And then we started talking to Dr. Ross [inaudible] neuropsychologist at [inaudible]. And he noted that a lot of his patients that had aphasia had nowhere to go after this. And then we knew that Kathy Martin, who is the head of the clubhouse had developed this wonderful clubhouse for people with brain injuries. So, the four of us got together after hours and just started talking about how Brooks really needs us. They had a crowdsourcing idea and we said, let’s do this. So, we’re all very passionate about what we do. And so we wrote up the performer and then presented at management retreat back in gosh, 2014, it was, I think.
Tracy Davis: I think it was the first crowdsourcing.
Jodi Morgan: Yeah, it was the first crowdsourcing. We didn’t know what we were doing, honestly, we just knew that we were very passionate and Brooks really needed something like this for our patients. And we were just a static because we made it to the top 10. There was phenomenal ideas. Our colleagues had some fantastic ideas, but we were very, very fortunate and we won the crowdsourcing idea.
Tracy Davis: Right. And if anyone doesn’t know what the crowdsourcing is, it’s typically every… It’s always been every two years since we’ve been doing it. Any employee, we even say that any patients or family members can come up with ideas too, but they can come up with any idea, you submit it and you get selected. We get tons of applications. I’m not a part of who picks them. But I think our executive team does. And then if you get selected, it’s usually around 10 people that you come to our leadership conference and it gets voted on by all of Brooks’s leadership as to who wins. And then you get funded to seek the idea out further. And I remember your presentation from your whole group with Russ and Cathy and Flo, because you guys were the first ones that set the template for how to win crowdsourcing, is you get emotion in there.
Jodi Morgan: Yeah.
Tracy Davis: Because you guys felt you had your power. I think you guys used. It’s like, like a PowerPoint, what’s it called the other?
Jodi Morgan: Pressing.
Tracy Davis: Pressing, there you go. And then… Because I was in the back running all the equipment. But you guys had not just the text and all the information and the valid points about why we need it, but you actually filmed people with aphasia saying they would love to have an aphasia center.
Jodi Morgan: Right. Yeah. It’s pretty powerful. And like I said, the gentleman that I talked to, I asked him, “Hey, can I just ask you what you would do if there was an aphasia center?” And he was… Literally was like, with my little camera filming him, it was just totally spontaneous. And that’s what we ended up putting in the presentation. So, I always tell him, I’m going to put a bronze statue of him in front of the aphasia center.
Tracy Davis: Yeah. And then now, then you guys moved whenever the brain injury clubhouse moved down university and you guys… And how many years has that been? So you guys are together in one building?
Jodi Morgan: Yeah. So, we actually opened the doors in March of 2016.
Tracy Davis: Wow.
Jodi Morgan: So, it has been open for three years now. I can’t believe it.
Tracy Davis: I can’t believe it’s just [inaudible].
Jodi Morgan: No.
Tracy Davis: Yeah.
Jodi Morgan: It’s flown by. And we opened the doors with 24 people with aphasia that came in and we have served hundreds and hundreds of people so far. We have about 67 active people in the aphasia center right now.
Tracy Davis: Wow.
Jodi Morgan: And then we have also the intensive. So we have the group, the community-based program where people can come from 9:00 to 2:00 all day long. They get groups like advocacy, how to use technology, politics, which is very interesting sometimes. We have groups like cooking groups, knitting groups, all aphasia friendly, so that people can learn in a safe and supportive environment and they have lunch together, we talk together. It’s like a second family. We have that. And then we also have our ICAP, our Intensive, Comprehensive Aphasia Program, which is a six week program. And that’s been amazing because we’ve had people fly in from Canada, from Abu Dhabi, from all different United Kingdom. We’ve had people from different countries flying in to get the six week intensive program. So, It’s been pretty phenomenal and the progress in some of the data that we’re presenting like CAC and other programs are showing that how amazing both programs are doing.
Tracy Davis: What’s the biggest difference, obviously intensive is explaining it. But what is the biggest difference between that, and then just the other members?
Jodi Morgan: I think the biggest difference is the, ICAP program does a lot of individuals. So, it does some individual intensive based things, but also integrated into groups. So, everything we do at the aphasia center is what’s called life participation approach to aphasia.
Tracy Davis: Okay.
Jodi Morgan: Which is basically how to get these people with aphasia to live successfully with it. So, we’ll teach them if they want to go back to church or if they want to go to Starbucks and order, we’ll teach them how to do that. They might not have the ability to speak in sentences, but we’ll teach them how to use icons or drawing or how to facilitate, get them re-engaged in life. We really also depend upon our friends at the clubhouse and adaptive sports to help us, because a lot of these folks, we are in all programs. So, I think the community programs are super strong in doing that. So, the ICAP is more of an intensive six week program where some individual that is very specific to them. And the community is more of a group. The ICAP lasts six weeks where the community program, they can go forever.
Tracy Davis: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So they can just keep coming.
Jodi Morgan: They can keep coming as long as they can put up with us.
Tracy Davis: And just to stop down and just reset a little bit. You said that aphasia is a loss of words, not intellect, which I love. I love short taglines, they explain exactly what something is. But can you give a better picture to people of maybe what these individuals are dealing with on a daily basis?
Jodi Morgan: Yeah. I think the thing that hits home with people a lot is, these folks are super, super smart. Aphasia, usually hits the left brain, which is not all language, but it’s heavy language based.
Tracy Davis: Okay.
Jodi Morgan: So, I tell people, it’s like if you didn’t know Japanese and you were dropped in rural Japan. You’re still the same person. You still have the same likes. You still have the same interest. You still have the same feelings, but your language has changed. So, you go to find the bathroom and you can’t read Japanese. So, you don’t know what bathroom to go in.
Tracy Davis: So it’s reading as well.
Jodi Morgan: It’s reading, it’s writing, it’s the language.
Tracy Davis: I didn’t think about that part, because it’s always been the talking for me. Yeah, you’re right.
Jodi Morgan: And so it’s messages coming in from people talking, it’s messages going out their own words. And it’s reading and writing. Now, some people only have one modality effective, but some people have all four. So, the Japan example for me is the best, because you try to read a menu, you have no idea what it says. So, you have to gesture is this a fish? And you can do fish with your hand to try and simulate that.
Tracy Davis: That’s a good analogy.
Jodi Morgan: Yeah. So people need a lot of support to understand the language and it can improve and it does improve, but it can be devastated and isolating.
Tracy Davis: And the injury typically comes from stroke or brain injury, it only comes from stroke or brain injury?
Jodi Morgan: Yeah, brain tumor, brain aneurysm, some progressive disorders like a primary progressive aphasia. So, there are other ways, gunshot wounds. Different things like that, but primarily it’s left-brain.
Tracy Davis: Okay.
Jodi Morgan: Yep.
Michelle Orallo: And so how are families involved?
Jodi Morgan: We really, with participation approach, families are always involved. They can come. We have coffee chat, first thing in the morning from 9:00 to 9:30. And families come to that a lot of times, so they can meet other people with aphasia and other family members. We also have a monthly support group for just the family members. So, we do advocacy and support groups constantly at the aphasia center for our friends with aphasia, our members with aphasia. But we also have support groups just for the family members. So, we’ll have guest speakers and sometimes it’s just a topic they pick. How to handle stress, who’s the best doctor for such and such, how do you handle holidays? We were having a guest speaker come from Florida State University that talks about friendships.
Because a lot of times when people lose their communication systems, that the person that supports them, we call them communication partners or caregivers. They lose their friend system too, because all of a sudden, no one can communicate with their loved one. So, they become isolated as well. So, we do a lot with that. And then we do a lot of family training. So again, we talked about the example with Japan. A lot of times it’s just teaching the family members and other people how to support this person with aphasia, to make them live successfully with life. So, we’ll teach them how to show that person how to draw a picture or give the first letter of the word.
And then all of a sudden they can say a whole sentence. So, we train the family members. So, we do videotaping with them, we play it back, we train them, we give them techniques. We show them how to make aphasia friendly material. So, there are certain fonts that you can use with people with brain injury that help them read the material better, certain types of pictures and icons and spacing. One and a half inch line spacing and certain fonts can increase their reading ability by 35%. A lot of the research shows. So, we’ll train family members how to do this, how to interact, how to communicate better with their loved ones. And then by them seeing other individuals with aphasia and their friendships, a lot of times, all of a sudden they become their own community and they build friendships.
We’ve had a lot of people with the patient become friends, and they’ve been traveling together, going on trips together because it’s really very, very supportive and it’s very enriching and empowering. So, I think one of the gifts, the aphasia center gives to people is that, new friendships and support. And it’s not necessarily with us, the speech pathologists, but they learn from each other and they encourage each other. And I think that’s one of the most beautiful things ever.
Tracy Davis: Yeah. It’s amazing how many… Pretty much everything that we deal with at Brooks, it’s not just the person, it’s also their family as well that has… It’s a big impact the things that we deal with.
Jodi Morgan: Absolutely.
Tracy Davis: Since you guys have been open with the BRAC, how have things grown, how has the word gotten out around the country, and also what makes you say that the way that Brooks does the BRAC is very different. So what makes us different?
Jodi Morgan: So, one of the things that makes us different first of all, is we’re currently only, there for a long time was only one, us, but the only nonprofit hospital system that has an aphasia center that supports it, most of the aphasia centers in the country are funded by grants and by different things that. So again, I am so proud to work for an organization that supports something like this. So, we’re different because we’re supported by Brooks. So, we get a lot of our folks that are wonderful speech pathologists that are inpatient or outpatient or home health refer them to us when their therapy is done. They know that they have a place to go. So, it’s been wonderful, a good continuum of care. We keep getting constant referrals and things like that. The other way we’re different is a lot of programs just have either just a community center or just an intensive.
And a lot of the community programs are shorter. So, there may be nine to 12, two days a week or something like that. But we own the building, we’re in the center and we have both an intensive and a community, and our training programs all under one roof. So, we do everything where a lot of people due to multiple reasons aren’t. And so, it’s a great environment. The other thing that makes us unique is the Jacksonville University speech pathology students. We couldn’t run our center without their help. We have grad students, undergrad students, a lot of volunteers that help us, they run computer labs for us. They help us clean up. They help us do everything. Because we have sometimes 40 people there at the same time and just a few staff members. So, we really heavily thank our JU graduate students and volunteers because they help us. So, they’re learning and a lot of our folks get extra and individualized attention because we have so many volunteers and help. So, that’s a wonderful thing. So, we’re unique for a lot of different reasons.
Tracy Davis: That’s great. And you guys have been growing continually?
Jodi Morgan: Yeah.
Tracy Davis: And we were talking before we started recording about the video that we just released and how it’s doing very well on social media in large part too. I think a lot of those shares that you’ve you’ve sent out, but I think people seeing the effects of what this is, and I think so many people just had no idea what it was. And actually being able to visually see and hear what it is really impactful.
Jodi Morgan: Right. And I want to thank Tracy Davis for helping me with this video since I have a little air time, but I really think it’s powerful. And our members really told Tracy and Jill Matejcek and I, what they wanted. They wanted people to understand what aphasia is. And if me, Jodi Morgan stands up there and says, this is aphasia, it’s not as powerful as if they can say, it’s trouble with words, it’s trouble speaking. How it’s affected their life, because I don’t know, I don’t have aphasia, so I have not walked in their shoes.
Tracy Davis: Right.
Jodi Morgan: And so I think it’s just an amazing thing. I love to talk so much. I love to communicate. And I know how important it is to think of that was suddenly taken away. And to watch that video, I get tears in my eyes just thinking about it, because it’s so powerful and beautiful, and it really hits a point that aphasia is a struggle, but you can re-engage in life. You can get better. You can make new friends, but your life is not the same.
Tracy Davis: And to those who haven’t seen it, that’s what we do in the video is, we show what it is but then we show that they are still who they are. Their state, again, words not intellect. So, they are still who they are just their communication is different.
Jodi Morgan: Yeah, absolutely.
Tracy Davis: I was struggling a little bit while I was editing it, just because I know that you wanted to show what it was, but it was hard for me to show… The whole point of it was to show this, but to put that on the screen of showing them struggle, but I knew like you said, we can’t show people what aphasia is, if we don’t show what aphasia is.
Jodi Morgan: Absolutely. Yeah. And it’s hard because sometimes I think with aphasia, it’s people will look at them and a lot of folks will look quote, unquote, physically look fine. And then they have so much trouble with words. It’s hard for people to understand that they can see a broken arm or they can see hemiplegia, but it’s hard for them to see aphasia until people speak. And I think the thing that my friends with aphasia want to point out is that it is tough, but there is a lot of hope for it.
Tracy Davis: Fantastic.
Michelle Orallo: So, if someone’s listening that has aphasia or knows someone that has aphasia, how would they reach out to you?
Jodi Morgan: Sure. There’s several different ways. I love to go to the website, so our brooksrehab.org, and then there’s actually a whole page on aphasia center with our wonderful video on there. So, there’s contacts on there. So you can just email, also our phone number is (904) 345-6780. Or you can contact me directly at [email protected]. And we would love even if it’s just to help, if somebody is even out of state and they just want information about aphasia, we’re in contact with different centers across the nation. So we could refer you out. We can educate family, we have support groups. We want to be there to help anyone with aphasia or family members with aphasia.
Tracy Davis: Thank you so much for taking the time to be here. We know you’re a busy lady and you’re about to go teach.
Jodi Morgan: Yeah. Well, thank you for having me. I’m so excited that I was the first one and I appreciate the time.
Tracy Davis: Yeah. Thank you so much.
Michelle Orallo: Thank you so much.
Tracy Davis: Our thanks to Jodi Morgan for being on the podcast. We really appreciate it. And I hope that helps people get a much better understanding of not just speech therapy and speech language pathologists, but also aphasia. And the amazing work that they’re doing at the Brooks Rehabilitation Aphasia Center. Again, the website for the aphasia center is brooksrehab.org/aphasia. That’s A-P-H-A-S-I-A. Also, if you’d like to follow us on social media, you can find us on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter @BrooksRehab. That’ll work on all of those. And then we also have a YouTube channel with our videos, but every video that we do is also on our Facebook.
Michelle Orallo: If you’d like to send us an email, our email is [email protected].