Feb 15, 2010
Elizabeth Klipp, 404-413-1356
Whether it's bagging groceries, waiting tables or hanging clothes in a retail store, a teen's first job typically means extra spending cash and little more.
But for GSU associate professor Jacqueline Laures-Gore, her first job as an aide in a nursing facility in rural Iowa introduced her to her life's passion - the field of communication disorders.
At the facility, Laures-Gore, then 16, met a patient who had suffered a stroke and had aphasia, an acquired communication disorder that causes difficulty producing or understanding language.
"I was really affected watching him and seeing how isolated he was because he couldn't communicate," Laures-Gores said. "I remember the speech therapist coming in and working with him. I enjoyed the medical side of it, and also the idea of helping someone."
Today, Laures-Gore, associate professor of communication disorders in Georgia State's College of Education, teaches graduate students who want to become speech-language pathologists. She also researches adult acquired communication disorders, specifically aphasia and motor speech disorders.
"I had a lot of questions about the brain and I wanted to understand the disorders more," said Laures-Gore. "Research is what got me into higher education, but I really enjoy teaching and having students learn about what I find so incredibly exciting and fascinating."
Lately, Laures-Gore's research has been focused on the connection between stress hormones and the recovery of language after a stroke.
She recently finished a study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, looking at the role that physiological stress, as measured by salivary cortisol, a stress hormone found in saliva, plays in the recovery of aphasia post-stroke.
"There's been some indication that individuals who have suffered left hemisphere stroke react differently to stress than healthy controls and that they may perceive more stress than individuals who have not had that brain damage," she said.
With this information, Laures-Gore hopes to create valid and reliable markers of stress in individuals with acquired communication disorders. Ultimately, she would like to see what aspects of stress could be conducive to the healing process for these patients.
"It could be that therapists need to include more techniques that reduce stress," said Laures-Gore who is also working on a single-subject study in the Georgia State Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic that involves how yoga-style breathing might help to facilitate traditional therapy.
Laures-Gore, who has nearly 20 years of clinical and academic experience in the field, is one of six faculty members in Georgia State's Communication Disorders Program. The program prepares students to be speech-language pathologists who can work with individuals of all ages in variety of settings, such as hospitals, schools and private practice firms. It is the only communication disorders program of its kind in Atlanta and has about 50 students enrolled.
"Georgia State has a great communication disorders program and it is a great place for students to learn," Laures-Gore said. "Speech-language pathology is an amazing profession that combines science with art. There is the science of understanding the brain and behavior and the art of creating therapies and working intensely with another individual so that they can communicate effectively. We're changing lives and that's an amazing thing."