Dogs & cats finding way to help people in Jacksonville battling aphasia

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Brooks Rehabilitation Aphasia Center partners with the Jacksonville Humane Society, allowing its members to read to animals, which is helping their condition improve.

Aphasia has been brought to light in recent days following Bruce Willis’ recent diagnosis.

Patients of the center are regaining their abilities to read and write with a dog — and a book.

Ricky Wilson was diagnosed with aphasia four years ago.

“I had a brain aneurism in 2018,” he said. “It can happen to anyone.”

Jodi Morgan is a manager at the Brooks Rehabilitation Aphasia Center.

“Aphasia, a lot of times, is either due to a stroke, a brain aneurism, a brain tumor,” Morgan said. “You can get aphasia from a car accident, gunshot wound any type of etiology that affects the left side of your brain.”

Morgan says one way they help aphasia patients regain their words is by reading to animals at the Jacksonville Humane Society.

“The research literature shows that by reading to the rescue animals, it calms them down and helps them to have a better appetite, and it helps them to relax in their new environment, and it helps our members with aphasia regain their words,” Morgan said.

The National Aphasia Association estimates 2 million Americans are affected and nearly 180,000 get the disorder every year.

Bruce Willis’ family recently announced his diagnosis, but his cause of Aphasia is unclear.

Brooks Rehab says those struggling with aphasia can get better.