Randy Travis & Wife Mary Address His Aphasia

It was eight years ago this summer that country music legend and Hall of Famer Randy Travis suffered a series of catastrophic health issues the ultimately took one of the greatest voices ever in country music away from us. After suffering viral cardiomyopathy and flat lining, Randy Travis was revived, but only to remain in a coma, and suffer a severe stroke. Since Travis was incapacitated at the time, they didn’t know until days later he’d suffered the stroke, losing precious time to attempt to reverse or mitigate the effects.

Spending a total of 5 1/2 months in the hospital—including needing to have a portion of his skull removed to alleviate swelling—Randy Travis was finally able to begin rehabilitation. But a condition called Aphasia, which affects many stroke sufferers, meant Randy’s speech was significantly challenged. In a new interview as part of a fundraiser for the Houston Aphasia Recovery Center, Randy Travis and his wife Mary sat for one of the most detailed discussions about Randy’s experience and condition yet.

“When we went to the first rehab hospital was when we first heard Aphasia—[a] term that people are not familiar with until they have to cross that road,” says Mary Travis. “They’re not familiar with it until it touches someone they know and love. 85% of people in American don’t know what Aphasia is or even heard of it—that being interesting because it’s more common that Parkinson’s, Muscular Dystrophy, Cerebral Palsy, yet people aren’t familiar with it. There’s 800,000 strokes a year, and up to a third to 40 percent of those people are left with the Aphasia.”

They were told initially that after six months there would be no new progress for Randy to regain his speech, but as Mary explains, “We’re eight years out now. It will be eight years in July. And there’s still everyday a new word, or two words put together. Those are the exciting things.”

The progress for Randy Travis has also included regaining the ability to sing “Amazing Grace,” which he performed at his induction to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2016. Interestingly, some stroke victims such as Travis are able to regain their singing abilities to a greater degree than regular speech since these two activities are controlled by different parts of the brain.

“The part that was affected, that was the dictation, the proper enunciation, and then the thought process,” Mary Travis says. “But it’s not the soul.”

Mary Travis also says there’s another important therapy for Randy.

“Environment and stimulation. As far as just going out and living your life, that’s when things start coming back to you. That’s when words start showing up, because the best therapy is living. The best therapy is getting out there and doing what you enjoy. Music.”

That is one of the reasons Randy Travis continues to randomly appear at the performances of artists near his home in Tioga, TX. He appeared in Ardmore, Oklahoma for a Cody Jinks show in January of 2019, and a couple of months ago made the trek to Billy Bob’s Texas in Fort Worth for a Josh Abbott Band show.

“He loves the music,” says Marty Travis. “We go see people that are playing close by, or wherever we’re passing through. Any time we can hear music, there’s an extra skip in the heart. Of course he loved singing and playing the music, and always will. We love now to go hear other people play music, because the music is his soul. That’s what he gave to the world. And now the world likes to give it back to him.”

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The Randy and Mary Travis interview begins at about the 10:10 mark in the video below.

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