Howard Blatt

Celebrating Howard Blatt’s life, co-founder of The Aphasia Community Group

by | Jun 21, 2024

Howard “Howie” Blatt of Massachusetts passed away last month at the age of 88. The Constant Therapy team remembers Blatt as an advocate and pioneer in the aphasia community, both in the New England area and nationwide. 

In this week’s obituary, featured on Morning Edition, NPR memorializes Blatt’s personal journey in stroke rehabilitation and his leadership in the creation of the Aphasia Community Group, one of the oldest and largest support groups in the country and held at Boston University’s Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

As Blatt’s obituary states: He was a true Renaissance man. This statement is true for before and after he experienced a stroke at the age of 48. While he worked through coping with partial paralysis and the loss of words, as many stroke survivors experience, he and his wife Judy found the early days of this new chapter in their lives quite lonely.

This lack of access to support and companionship is what led the pair to help found The Aphasia Community Group in 1990, a network that many stroke survivors say, “rescued them from isolation.”

Howard Blatt is one of many individuals who has inspired the Constant Therapy team in our own vision to create a speech and language rehabilitation software that is as accessible and inclusive as possible.

According to the National Aphasia Association, there are at least 2 million people living with aphasia in the United States alone, and yet only 40% of people have heard of aphasia and can properly identify it as a language disorder. Amazingly, 33.3% of those “aphasia aware” individuals either have aphasia or know someone who does. It is this lack of awareness and understanding that can leave many affected individuals feeling alone or stranded.

It is the mission of the Aphasia Resource Center at the Boston University Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, where the Aphasia Community Group is held, to provide therapy, education, socialization, and education, so that the millions of individuals living with aphasia and their families feel seen and heard.

Swathi Kiran, PhD, CCC-SLP, serves as the Research Director of the Aphasia Resource Center, as well as the director of BU’s Aphasia Research Lab and Center for Brain Recovery. Dr. Kiran is the founding scientist of Constant Therapy and a world-renowned expert in aphasia rehabilitation and brain plasticity. She has dedicated her career to the advancement of research in neurorehabilitation and speech and language recovery so that we can better understand the disorder and how to appropriately support those living with aphasia.

The aphasia community is a special one. Despite aphasia’s pervasiveness, it is a safe space that feels smaller. It’s more like a family, and that is largely in part due to the kindness and humility of its many leaders, like Howie Blatt. Constant Therapy takes tremendous pride in serving this community while working to advance brain science and neurorehabilitation.

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