On October 30th, I joined The Stroke Comeback Center in celebrating its 10th anniversary with a gala dinner at USA Today.
Aphasia is the biggest challenge to stroke survivors. It affects the brain’s speech function and robs them of their ability to communicate. Themed ‘The Art of Communicating’, the gala honored the accomplishments of hundreds of stroke survivors and wounded warriors that have worked to regain their speech and function through the work of this wonderful center.
Most survivors turn to the center when their insurance runs out, which unfortunately is usually just four to six weeks after a stroke or brain injury. Founder Darlene Williamson created The Stroke Comeback Center to ensure that no stroke survivor or wounded warrior needing cognitive treatment is ever turned away from therapy for an inability to pay.
Survivors can continue to improve for years with the right help. I spoke with one stroke survivor who at the beginning, had no speech. Through her work at the center, she has regained 60% of her speech and the future now seems bright.
When the center received a grant for exercise, therapist Nancy Seiden developed a program of fitness classes in a peer environment. Per scientific studies, exercise is more effective than medication in preventing a relapse. I spoke with stroke survivor Bonita Beaudoin who has attended fitness classes at the center every Wednesday for the past 5 years. The class has been instrumental in Bonita’s recovery from aphasia, as she feels safe overcoming her challenges surrounded by an energetic and committed group of people going through the same thing. Her biggest piece of advice to other stroke survivors is to come to the center, because it’s therapy, camaraderie, and caring staff will change your life and help you improve. Don’t be alone, just come.
Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “What should people do with their lives today? The most daring thing is to create communities in which the terrible disease of loneliness can be cured.” This is exactly what the Stroke Comeback Center offers to stroke & brain injury survivors with aphasia. I was honored to learn more about this organization and it’s dedicated caregivers. Our generation does so much to raise awareness for stroke prevention, but what about what happens after it strikes? It’s so important to me to spotlight this organization and let stroke survivors and wounded warriors in the DC Metro Area know that they have a resource and a home-like environment in their own community where they can get the support they need to improve and rebuild their lives.
For more information on receiving help, volunteer opportunities, or how to give to this worthwhile cause please visit their website at http://www.strokecomebackcenter.org