Cerna Stories #2: Linda’s Mysterious Loss

Every case Cerna assesses is quite different because no two people are alike. While people suffer from the same disease, like Alzheimer’s, unique approaches to care are required based on the particular person. When doctors and caregivers have a good understanding of a diagnosis and a person’s symptoms, a custom care plan can be implemented. But, how do you approach a care plan for symptoms when the disease or cause of the impairment is a mystery?

*Linda, a vibrant 64 year old woman and vice president of her company, had a day no different than any other. Like every night, she went to sleep – and then, everything changed.


The following morning, Linda awoke and could not talk. The disorder is called aphasia; she was suddenly left with the inability to speak, read or write – although she could comprehend words. She was also semi-paralyzed on her right side. Despite numerous neurological exams, the cause could not be determined. Diagnostics showed no signs of stroke.

While her family continued to seek answers that never came, Linda spent an entire year floundering in her new world completely isolated, unable to communicate and utterly frustrated. Her quality of life had deteriorated immensely causing severe depression.

Linda’s husband reached-out to Cerna for help. Linda was in tears when she met Cerna’s Care Coordinator; she was so very sad, compounded by the incapacity to impart basic needs and wants. Despite her paralysis, Cerna began teaching Linda sign language using only her left hand.

The plan was to teach Linda 10 words every 3 days. As her husband said, “This was a game changer.” In the course of just a couple weeks, Linda could communicate with her family. The sense of empowerment as well as the release of pent-up aggravation has had a transformative effect on Linda. Marc Friedman, Cerna’s Senior Vice President of Client Care explains, “This is a forward thinking cognitive exercise that is really beneficial for people diagnosed with aphasia. We are now using it with a second client in Corona Del Mar and it is also proving to be impactful.”

Four months into her care with Cerna, Linda has made remarkable progress. Now, so much of the guessing has been removed from every day interactions. Linda has a care plan that Cerna’s cognitive caregivers implement to achieve her continued progress. The plan changes frequently as Linda improves. Besides her cognitive care regime, Cerna caregivers supervise her activity by walking with her, going out to lunch or the library – and doing things that Linda likes to do.

Today, she is still very limited; her brain is working at about 60%. The original cause of Linda’s condition is still unknown. But, it is no mystery that her quality of life is improved. Best of all, she is happier and can communicate her happiness to others.

*names are changed to protect privacy