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Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital Speech Pathologist Involved in Breakthrough Research for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy


Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital Speech Pathologist Involved in Breakthrough Research for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy


Date: December 3, 2013

Contact: Nick Bejarano
Regional Communications Manager

Willits, CA – On October 8, 2013 a PBS Frontline documentary, “League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis investigated the condition now known as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), which (up until recently) could only be fully diagnosed postmortem. CTE has been most commonly found in athletes who experience repetitive brain trauma such as a concussion. Symptoms associated with CTE may be dementia, memory loss, aggressive behavior, confusion and depression. There has been a tragic series of suicides associated with CTE.

Local Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital (HMH) Speech Language Pathologist, Nancy Horowitz Moilanen, M.A. CCC-SLP has conducted a breakthrough case study that may help treat NFL players in particular and anyone suffering from CTE. Horowitz Moilanen presented her CTE treatment program on November 14, 2013 to an over-flowing room at the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association’s (ASHA) national annual convention in Chicago, Illinois. “Executive Function Treatment: In the Face of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy – Lifesaving”.

“I presented a case study on a former NFL player who has a medical history of serial concussive injuries and whose 2009 MRI showed mild cortical volume loss (cerebral atrophy). His neuropsychological testing showed dementia secondary to repetitive concussion from football and organic mood disorder secondary to multiple head trauma. Basically, he was experiencing multiple symptoms that have been associated with CTE,” shared Horowitz Moilanen.

According to Horowitz Moilanen, the Plan of Care and Treatment Goals for this particular individual were co-developed with the patient. “Treatment occurred over a 10 month period and was focused on neurological executive function skills; such as, learning problem solving strategies, goal setting, initiating tasks and self-inhibiting behaviors. However, the turning factor in his treatment was supporting him in developing an education project about his struggles; one which could act as a “Prevention” program for others. This offered a sense of purpose and, at times a reason to push forward.”

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that there are between 1.7 and 3.8 million traumatic brain injuries in the United States each year. Of those, 17% will go on to develop into progressive symptoms such as are found in CTE. Horowitz Moilanen, also wanted to point out, “this translates into 647,000 new cases a year. We have approximately 135,000 ASHA certified Speech-Language Pathologists. That means at any given time we, Speech-Language Pathologists in the school settings or hospital settings, could have at least 3-5 new cases a year!”

As for the former NFL player presented in Horowitz Moilanen’s case study research, changes in behavior resulted in an overall increased sense of self-esteem and personal empowerment. “The outcome resulted in the patient believing and understanding that he has a positive and effective role in choosing, daily, to cope with his challenges. Five months after therapy, he reported minimal episodes of pain and a distinct decrease in the myriad of symptoms he had been experiencing since 1989,” said Horowitz Moilanen.

Horowitz Moilanen also recently presented her CTE case study at the Intermountain Area Speech and Hearing Association’s 4 state convention in Denver, Colorado.

Frank R. Howard Memorial Hospital is pleased to offer rehabilitation services including, Speech-Language Pathology. Speech Pathology can help treat a variety of medical disorders including, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease, Swallowing disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorder and other neurological disorders including CTE. For more information on the services provided by Nancy Horowitz Moilanen, please contact (707)-459-3141.