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Sunday, January 31, 2010

For more information, please contact June Chu, Acting Director, at

and the

The  meeting of the Saint Vincent's Rehabilitation Department Aphasia Support Group for Survivors and Co-Survivors will take place on

 Monday, February 8, 2010
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm 
Signs with arrows in the front Lobby will direct
you to the location of our Group Meeting

The address of Saint Vincent's is:
171 West 12th Street off of 7th Avenue

complimentary coffee will be served
treats are welcome such as cookies and cake

 session consists of:
supportive large group therapy and
a separate group for Co-Survivor

         For more information, please contact
         June Chu, Acting Director, at

These services are provided at no cost to Aphasia Survivors and their Co-Survivors and are sponsored by The International Aphasia Movement - a not for profit organization - in co-operation with Saint Vincent's Rehabilitation Department, the UFT, Western Kentucky University and The City of New York Public Schools. These services are conducted by qualified and licensed Supervising SLP's and a Ph.D.
For more information, please contact June Chu, Acting Director, at junechu@msn.comSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

CPS / Cabinet supervisor and Social Security Fraud

If I told you the supervisor at the Shelby County Kentucky office of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services was purchasing my abuser’s illegal drugs, you would probably think I was nuts.  However, although the money flow isn’t as simple I believe I can illustrate clearly how the Cabinet Supervisor is doing just that.
During my first interview with Cabinet social workers, I informed the Cabinet that I am a disabled American & that my children and I both collect disability pay from Social Security.  I further informed them that when my abuser left the jurisdiction, she took with her the ATM card on which those benefits were placed each month.  Now before anyone thinks this is welfare, let me assure you that I paid about 17% of my income into this insurance policy while working as an author and public speaker.  Due to an injury suffered on the job, I can no longer do that job due to a condition called aphasia.  I collect the benefits so I can retrain to reenter the workforce with a job which does not require public speaking.
On November 16th, I was awarded temporary custody of my two children.  A couple weeks later, custody was awarded to the Cabinet due to accusations that the head injury, which caused my aphasia, prevents me from raising children.  Where do you suppose my children’s Social Security benefits have been going?  Instead of going to my children, it appears they have been collected by my abuser who Social Security employees tell me has no legal right to collect the benefits.
Currently, the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Social Security is conducting a full investigation into just why it is that my abuser collected those funds, why the Cabinet for Health and Family Services did not intervene on my children’s behalf, and why my abuser has not documented how those and my benefits have been spent.  It now appears that my abuser might be liable for tens of thousands of dollars as she seems to have spent these benefits on her own selfish needs rather than entering the work force when I became disabled.
The social security administration assures me that Cabinet officials SHOULD HAVE immediately filed as my children’s payees and that the money SHOULD HAVE been used for my children’s benefit.  A Social Security fraud investigator assures me that there is no condition where my abuser should have received that money if she does not have custody of my children.  And yet, it seems the supervisor with the Shelby County office of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services has completely ignored her responsibility to insure the benefits were received by the State of Kentucky and used for my children’s care.
Instead, it appears my abuser continues to receive my children’s benefits.  As law enforcement officers inform me that my abuser has all the classic signs of being a “meth head” complete with dramatic weight loss and what is described as “meth mouth”, I imagine my children’s money is now going to purchase my abusers illegal drugs.  Although I can not say for sure that crystal meth is her drug of choice, now that my abuser no longer has access to the prescription medication she stole from my mother and I, it does seem she will have to purchase it on her own.  Why would the Cabinet supervisor seem to help her do so?
With incident after incident of what seems to be utter incompetence in my case alone, I can not imagine why this woman continues to hold her job.
CPS / Cabinet supervisor and Social Security FraudSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mary Drylewicz

             Peace                                                                                  AZTEC QUEEN                    

Mary Drylewicz, a former data analyst, found great artistic ability after suffering a stroke
Mary DrylewiczSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Delineating Speech And Language Therapy

The field of speech and language therapy is somewhat a vague body of knowledge that only a few people understand. What most people don’t know is that there is a difference between speech therapy as a whole and language therapy. Although the term ?speech and language’ therapy is widely used, since speech and language problems coexist most of the time.


Differentiating Speech And Language Therapy
The truth of the matter is, that speech therapy and language therapy differ in some key areas. First off, they differ on the problems that they are targeting. The techniques and activities used during therapy are also different. Although there are times that these activities are done simultaneously, to target two problems at a time.

Speech Therapy
Speech therapy is done to treat speech problems. Such speech problems deal with how or the manner a person speaks. These speech problems are categorized into three general kinds. First, is voice or resonation disorders. Second, is articulation disorders. And, lastly, fluency disorders.

Voice disorders mainly deals on problems with the voice box or the larynx itself. These may be due to physiological malfunction, anatomical differences, fatigue, or neurological problems. Some voice disorders present problems in pitch, volume, and tone. The presence of breathy, raspy, nasal and weak voice is viable too.

Articulation disorders, on the other hand, deal with the manner a person speaks. The problem is rooted from the articulators themselves. Articulators are composed of the tongue, teeth, hard palate, soft palate, jaw, and cheeks. Articulation disorders may be due to weakness or physiological malfunction in any of the articulators, which results to distorted or incomprehensible speech.
It’s really a good idea to probe a little deeper into the subject of Speech Therapy. What you learn may give you the confidence you need to venture into new areas.

Fluency disorders would deal on problems regarding the fluency of the person. It may be the case that he talks too fast or too slow. Stuttering and Cluttering are two of the major fluency problems that speech therapists deal with.
Speech therapy activities would likely include different exercises to practice speaking. Since most of the time, weak muscles are present; the therapy proper would usually include activities that can help strengthen these muscles. Different compensatory strategies are also taught, so that the patient can compensate for lost speaking skills.

Language Therapy
Language therapy mainly deals with problems regarding your inner language, receptive language and expressive language. Cognition skills can be the main cause of language problems. Unlike speech disorders, that manifest physical differences, most language disorders are due to problems the brain’s language processing.

Receptive language problems mainly deals on difficulties understanding received language, like what other people are telling you and comprehending written data. Expressive language problems on the other hand are difficulties on expressing oneself. You may have a hard time knowing which words to use verbally or even through writing.
Language based problems are usually treated through mental exercises. Workbooks are often used to practice and develop language skills. For very young children, play therapy is used to develop inner language, so that the therapist could later on target improving receptive and expressive language, respectively.

In some cases, speech and language problems are both present. This is especially true for individuals that had traumatic brain injuries or accidents that had an effect on the brain. They may manifest physiological problems due to damaged nerves that result to articulation or voice problems.
The can also have language problems like aphasia, especially if their brain was hit on its language areas.
Delineating Speech And Language TherapySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, January 25, 2010

One Response to “What Activity Can I Do That Relates To How Stroke Affects Communication?”

What Activity Can I Do That Relates To How Stroke Affects Communication?
Im doing a presentation on “how stroke affects communication”. i would like to include an activity so that my audience can participate in it. Does anyone know an activity or something that relates to my main topic?
Lawrence says:
I suffered an embolic stroke in August 2006 and I was aphasiac (unable to speak properly). I was very lucky in that I got the hospital ER within 20 minutes. Within one hour the clot-busting drug tPA was administered. Seventeen hours later I was able to speak normally once again. I still retain a small level of disability that I just have to deal with everyday.
1) Get 3 people.
2) The first person represents the ears (hearing). The second person represents the stroke patient with aphasia. (the patient’s mind). The third person represents the stroke patient’s speech.
3) Someone in the audience asks a question. (e.g. “Where were you born?” )
4) The hearing, the 1st person, recites the question to the 2nd person, the mind.
5) The 2nd person forms a reasonable and understandable answer and then recites this answer to the third person, the speech.
6) The third person, speech, utters the answer as jibberish (in a drunken incoherent-like slobber)
This is why stroke-related aphasia is disheartening and depressing to a stroke patient.
You can juggle what function the 3 persons have to depict different debilitating stroke conditions. The audience actually represents the stoke patient’s environment.
Take look at the link below as stroke induced aphasia can also impact the ability to understand questions that are asked or that are read back by the patient.
Stroke related paralysis can also impact the ability to write as well.
One Response to “What Activity Can I Do That Relates To How Stroke Affects Communication?”SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Speech Disturbances

A. Disturbances in the Speech Area of the Brain. Various parts of the brain are involved in the use of  language, the sensory areas of hearing and vision, the area in which memories are recorded, the area in which imagination and creative thinking occur, and the areas in which the muscle actions are coordinated and initiated. These areas, interconnected by many nerve fibers, function smoothly in enabling a person to speak. For the most part these several areas are located in the dominant hemisphere of the cerebrum, midway between the back of the head and the forehead. Collectively they are called the "speech area." By "dominant hemisphere" we mean the left side of the brain in a right-handed person or the right side in a left-handed person. In every person, one side of the brain is "boss," and this side controls the complex functions of speech.
Any condition which handicaps the normal functioning of the speech area or, especially, any destruction of a part of the brain included in the speech area or any interruption of the nerve fibers that connect the parts of this area, will curtail the ability to speak in proportion to the damage done. Such speech handicap is called aphasia. Aphasia is usually caused by the rupture of an artery of the brain, by the development of a clot in such an artery, or by the lodgment of a fragment of blood clot so as to deprive a portion of the brain of its blood supply. The manifestations of aphasia vary all the way from mild limitation in the patient's vocabulary to total inability to express ideas. In mild cases it is the less familiar words or the proper names that are lost from the vocabulary. In more severe cases only simple words used almost automatically are retained. In such cases, even the simple words are not always used appropriately. For example, the patient may say Yes when he means No. The patient often appears humiliated and thwarted by his inability. It is not that his organs of speech are paralyzed, for the words he does use are enunciated normally. It is that his capacity for translating thoughts to words is now limited.

B. Faulty Control of the Organs of Speech.
Damage to any of the nerves that carry impulses from the brain to the organs of speech will, of course, interfere with the function of speech. If the facial nerve which controls the muscles of the cheeks and lips is damaged, the sounds of "b" and "p" are difficult to execute. The hypoglossal nerve controls the tongue; its malfunction makes the sounds of "1" and "t" difficult. The vagus nerve controls the soft palate, the pharynx, and the muscles within the larynx. When the branches to the soft palate are damaged, speech has a nasal sound. When the branch to one side of the larynx is interrupted, speech is weak and unnatural.
In Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis, the rhythm of speech is altered because of the interference with normal muscle stability, muscle tone, and muscle coordination. In certain functional disorders the organs of speech and their nervous control remain normal but the production of words is abnormal. Examples are stuttering and hysterical mutism, which appear to be the result of unsolved psychological problems.
C. Diseases of the Larynx. Acute laryngitis, such as sometimes occurs in connection with a sore throat or with the common cold, causes the voice to be hoarse. Chronic laryngitis, as in smokers or in those with respiratory disease producing purulent secretions that pass through the larynx, also causes hoarseness. Benign tumors (as polyps or papillomas) sometimes develop within the larynx and interfere with normal production of sound. Probably the most serious disease affecting the larynx is laryngeal cancer. The first symptom of this condition is usually a persisting hoarseness. This should be interpreted as a danger signal to act at once, for success in treating cancer of the larynx depends on early treatment.
D. Defects in the Auxiliary Organs of Speech. Defects of the lip, palate, and other auxiliary organs of speech may be congenital, or they may have resulted from mutilating accident or disease. In the congenital group we think of hare-lip and cleft palate. These, when taken early in a child's life, can be treated quite satisfactorily by surgery. In tissue losses due to accident or disease, the speech can often be much improved by the wearing of a prosthetic device.
E. Stuttering and Stammering. For practical purposes, these are synonymous. In this condition the flow of speech is interrupted by pauses and by repetition of sounds or syllables. Facial grimaces often accompany the effort to enunciate the desired word.
The problem of stuttering typically appears between ages two and ten. It affects about I percent of school-age children, being six times more common in boys than in girls. In the usual case, the fault is not with the organs of speech. It occurs as a symptom of some emotional disturbance such as when a child feels that his security is threatened. A child's stuttering may be aggravated by starting to school too soon, being pushed to carry schoolwork beyond his present stage of development, feeling insecure in personal relations at home, or being resentful of an older brother's or sister's domination. The child who stutters should ideally be placed under the professional care of a speech therapist. Parents may do a great deal to help the child by spending more time in congenial companionship.
Speech DisturbancesSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Computer classes in Edinburgh for people with Aphasia

January 24, 2010 by briteblog
Speakability will be running small computing classes for people with aphasia at Queen Margaret University from February 2010. Further courses will be offered in the summer and in October.
Classes will be run by a speech and language therapist who has an understanding of the needs of learners with aphasia. As far as possible, the courses will be tailored to learners’ requirements and abilities.
Assistive technology will be available for people who use one hand, or who would benefit from touch-screens and predictive text. Assistance with transport may be provided for learners unable to use public transport.
For further details, email Graham McGuire at
Computer classes in Edinburgh for people with AphasiaSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, January 24, 2010

What is Aphasia? | Types of Aphasia | Causes of Aphasia

By Rey Ryan for
Published: January 24, 2010
Aphasia is an acquired language disorder in which there is an impairment of any language modality. This may include difficulty in producing or comprehending spoken or written language.
Causes of Aphasia
Aphasia usually results from lesions to the language-relevant areas of the temporal and parietal cortex of the brain, such as Broca’s area, Wernicke’s area, and the neural pathways between them. These areas are almost always located in the left hemisphere, and in most people this is where the ability to produce and comprehendlanguage is found. However, in a very small number of people, language ability is found in the right hemisphere. In either case, damage to these language areas can be caused by a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or other brain injury. Aphasia may also develop slowly, as in the case of a brain tumor or progressive neurological disease, e.g., Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. It may also be caused by a sudden hemorrhagic event within the brain. Certain chronic neurological disorders, such as epilepsy or migraine, can also include transient aphasia as a prodromal or episodic symptom. Aphasia is also listed as a rare side effect of the fentanyl patch, an opioid used to control chronic pain
People with aphasia may experience any of the following behaviors due to an acquired brain injury, although some of these symptoms may be due to related or concomitant problems such as dysarthria or apraxia and not primarily due to aphasia: inability to comprehend language, inability to pronounce, not due to muscle paralysis or weakness, inability to speak spontaneously, inability to form words, inability to name objects, poor enunciation, excessive creation and use of personal neologisms, inability to repeat a phrase, persistent repetition of phrases, paraphasia (substituting letters, syllables or words), agrammatism (inability to speak in a grammatically correct fashion), dysprosody (alterations in inflexion, stress, and rhythm), incompleted sentences, inability to read, inability to write


The following table summarizes some major characteristics of different types of aphasia:
Type of aphasia
Auditory comprehension
Wernicke’s aphasia
fluent paraphasic
Individuals with Wernicke’s aphasia may speak in long sentences that have no meaning, add unnecessary words, and even create new “words” (neologisms). For example, someone with Wernicke’s aphasia may say, “You know that smoodle pinkered and that I want to get him round and take care of him like you want before”, meaning “The dog needs to go out so I will take him for a walk”. They have poor auditory and reading comprehension, and fluent, but nonsensical, oral and written expression. Individuals with Wernicke’s aphasia usually have great difficulty understanding the speech of both themselves and others and are therefore often unaware of their mistakes.
Transcortical sensory aphasia
Similar deficits as in Wernicke’s aphasia, but repetition ability remains intact.
Conduction aphasia
relatively good
Conduction aphasia is caused by deficits in the connections between the speech-comprehension and speech-production areas. This might be damage to the arcuate fasciculus, the structure that transmits information between Wernicke’s area and Broca’s area. Similar symptoms, however, can be present after damage to the insula or to the auditory cortex. Auditory comprehension is near normal, and oral expression is fluent with occasional paraphasic errors. Repetition ability is poor.
Nominal or Anomic aphasia
Anomic aphasia, is essentially a difficulty with naming. The patient may have difficulties naming certain words, linked by their grammatical type (e.g. difficulty naming verbs and not nouns) or by their semantic category (e.g. difficulty naming words relating to photography but nothing else) or a more general naming difficulty. Patients tend to produce grammatic, yet empty, speech. Auditory comprehension tends to be preserved.
Broca’s aphasia
mild difficulty
non-fluent, effortful, slow
Individuals with Broca’s aphasia frequently speak short, meaningful phrases that are produced with great effort. Broca’s aphasia is thus characterized as a nonfluent aphasia. Affected people often omit small words such as “is”, “and”, and “the”. For example, a person with Broca’s aphasia may say, “Walk dog” which could mean “I will take the dog for a walk”, “You take the dog for a walk” or even “The dog walked out of the yard”. Individuals with Broca’s aphasia are able to understand the speech of others to varying degrees. Because of this, they are often aware of their difficulties and can become easily frustrated by their speaking problems. It is associated with right hemiparesis, meaning that there can be paralysis of the patient’s right face and arm.
Transcortical motor aphasia
Similar deficits as Broca’s aphasia, except repetition ability remains intact. Auditory comprehension is generally fine for simple conversations, but declines rapidly for more complex conversations. It is associated with right hemiparesis, meaning that there can be paralysis of the patient’s right face and arm.
Global aphasia
Individuals with global aphasia have severe communication difficulties and will be extremely limited in their ability to speak or comprehend language. They may be totally nonverbal, and/or only use facial expressions and gestures to communicate. It is associated with right hemiparesis, meaning that there can be paralysis of the patient’s right face and arm.
Transcortical mixed aphasia
Similar deficits as in global aphasia, but repetition ability remains intact.
Subcortical aphasias

Characteristics and symptoms depend upon the site and size of subcortical lesion. Possible sites of lesions include the thalamus, internal capsule, and basal ganglia.

What is Aphasia? | Types of Aphasia | Causes of AphasiaSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My hero, my father John Gross, by Philip Gross

Philip Gross
    Philip Gross's father, John
    John Gross
    Here's an old man, older than he ever reckoned to be. He doesn't look much like a hero – hair and beard a bit unkempt, and you can tell his eyesight's not up to the job of catching a food stain here and there. But he's got his walking stick and his eccentric beret, and he strides through the backstreets, rain or shine. Don't ask him where he's going; he'll just see your lips moving, your look of slight impatience or concern . . . because his hearing has crumbled, from the top registers downwards: birdsong went first; now there's mainly the confusing growl of traffic. Bang a car door and he'll startle, as if it's a gunshot. For him that isn't a figure of speech; 65 years ago he was ducking and weaving his way across Europe in the awful closing movements of the war.
    But that's another story, one he won't tell now, because words have deserted him – the three or four languages he had at his command gone with a series of small strokes, the attrition of age, aphasia . . . Can you imagine: cut off from the sound of human voices, and from your own voice? You can read just, inch by inch, up close, and your fine motor control isn't up to more than two or three words before it goes haywire.
    Now, look up. Address the world fairly in whatever phonemes you can muster. Put a bold foot forward. In the words of early Quaker George Fox, "Walk cheerfully over the world . . ."
    We have never been a family for filial piety, still less for hero-worship. I have no idea whether he was a brave man in that war, or simply human. But looking at my father now, the way he bears his old age . . . I call that a bit heroic.
    My hero, my father John Gross, by Philip GrossSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Friday, January 22, 2010

    Luncheon will be in honor of our Supervising SLP, Jane

    and the
    The first meeting of the Saint Vincent's Rehabilitation Department Aphasia Speech Therapy Clinic will take place this
    Saturday, January 23, 2010
    from 10 AM to 2 PM
    in the Cafeteria
    Complimentary Coffee upon arrival and Lunch will be served
    Luncheon will be in honor of our Supervising SLP, Jane
    who will be spending her last Saturday with our Group
    Co-Survivors are urged to attend.
    The address of Saint Vincent's is 171 West 12th Street off of 7th Avenue
    This session consists of  small group individual therapy
    These services are provided at no cost to Aphasia Survivors and their Co-Survivors and are sponsored by The International Aphasia Movement - a not for profit organization - in co-operation with Saint Vincent's Rehabilitation Department, the UFT, Western Kentucky University and The City of New York Public Schools.  These services are conducted by qualified and licensed Supervising SLPs and a Ph.D.

    St. Vincent's Aphasia Therapy Group

    Luncheon will be in honor of our Supervising SLP, JaneSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Wednesday, January 20, 2010

    Where Is Speech Center In Brain ?

    The speech center in our brain is most commonly known as the ‘Broca’s Area’. In right-handed people, the left hemisphere of the brain has the parietal lobe in it. The speech center lies in this parietal lobe. In most left-handed people also this lies in the left hemisphere but not in all. The Broca’s motor speech area is responsible for controlling the motor activities of all anatomic structures. It is named after a French Surgeon and Anatomist by name Pierre Paul Broca (1824-80). He carried out extensive studies about our brain. The movements of the lips, jaws and tongue is possible by the motor nerves. Pierre Paul Broca identified the Broca’s area in 1865 by autopsying brains. Most research was carried on with animals who never talk.
    The center for the language recognition is situated in the right hemisphere. One who loses speech activities may be capable of understanding what is being spoken to him and vice versa. This condition is named as Aphasia. The person is capable of understanding speech (and writing in few cases) but unable to talk.
    Damage to the speech centers results in the three speech disorders – Aphasia, Dysarthria and Dysphonia. Any weakness in the muscles responsible for the production of speech cause defect in the articulation and rhythm of speech. This is termed as Dysarthria. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and Myasthenia Gravis are two other diseases associated with muscle weakness defects. A brain tumor or some non-neurological factor may lead to hoarseness in the voice. This is called Dysphonia. Aphasia can be of two types – Motor Aphasia (inability to express thoughts, neither in speech or writing) and Sensory Aphasia (inability to understand speech nor read).
    An infant is born with the ability to learn but not to speak. Speaking is inherent in all human species. The basic language of communication is passed to the children at a very young age. he learns speaking very easily from his surrounding, his family and peers. Since then he keeps adding to his list of vocabulary. The additions is due to the exposure to education and experience.
    The exact site of the problem and the healthy regions are well analyzed before performing any treatment.
    Where Is Speech Center In Brain ?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Tuesday, January 19, 2010

    Top Tips For Recovery After A Stroke

    by Dorothy E Ross PhD CCC-SLP
    Published: at Jan 19, 2010
    Recently a client jokingly asked me, "Can you give me a pill so I can instantly recover from my stroke and don't have to come to therapy any more?" Unfortunately, this pill has not been invented yet. Until it is invented, the best way to recover from a stroke is - practice, practice, practice.
    Twenty years of experience as a speech language pathologist has convinced me that the brain is like a muscle - the more we use it, the stronger for us. Luckily, the brain does not get bigger when we use it, the way a muscle does - if it did, we would all have "big heads"! But the brain does get faster, more accurate, and more efficient, the more that we use it.
    Think back to the time when you were learning a new skill. It could have been a sport like baseball or basketball. Or it could have been learning a musical instrument like the piano. It could even have been as simple as learning to ride a bike or drive a car. You can remember that when you first started practicing, you were very slow and had to think about every move that you made. You could only do the simplest things, and even those with great difficulty. However, the more you practiced, the easier it got. As your skills got better, you could make more difficult maneuvers, move faster, and you didn't waste as much energy. Eventually, you didn't even have to think that much about what you were doing - you could do it "automatically".
    It took a lot of practice to become good. You probably had to practice 2-3 hours a day if you wanted to become really good. In fact, researchers found that to be a true expert in any field, you have to practice about 10,000 hours. That's the equivalent of 20 hours a week for 10 years. So if you only practiced one or two hours a week, you probably didn't get very good at what you were learning.
    Relearning a skill after a stroke is similar to the process of learning it in the first place. Fortunately, after a stroke you usually have all the knowledge that you had before the stroke. The information is not "lost", it is still there. The problem is that the connection to the information is broken. So you have trouble getting hold of the information that you already possess. You may "come up blank", or your ability to do it is slower and less accurate. The only way to make the connections stronger is to practice doing the activity over and over again.
    The skill of a therapist is to organize your practice. The therapist needs to know what your present abilities are, and what you would like to be able to do. The therapist has knowledge of what activities will get you from where you are to where you want to be. The therapist must also select activities that will be difficult enough to be challenging, but not so difficult that they will be discouraging or even impossible to do.
    Whether you are currently in therapy or not, you can continue to improve your abilities for as long as you live. Scientists recently discovered that giant redwood trees, the largest trees on the planet, continue to grow bigger for as long as they live. The human brain also can continue to learn for a whole life time. Have you heard the old expression, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" ? Well, it is not true. Regardless of your age, you can keep learning every day of your life.
    Keep on looking for activities that challenge you, but are not impossible for you to do today. In a few years from now, you will be amazed to see what you have accomplished!
    Dorothy Ross
    Top Tips For Recovery After A StrokeSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Paul & Stephanie's January Stroke Survivor Newsletter

    Paul Berger & Stephanie Mensh’s Stroke Survivor NEWS & ATTITUDE FOR YOU - JANUARY 2010

    1. NEWS: RESEARCH on Stroke Recovery & Rehabilitation: Music Therapy
    *** Intensive Aphasia Therapy News ***
    2. PAUL’S SURVIVORS TIPS Olympic Mental Focus Stroke Comeback Center Chocolate Party - Feb 5
    ** Combine Reading & Listening for Solutions & Adventure **
    4. PAUL'S FAVORITES: E-Books
    5. WHAT'S NEW on:
    6. Study on Crime Against Persons with Disabilities U.S. Department of Justice Reports
    7. Stroke Reading Problems? Free Read-aloud Software
    1. NEWS: RESEARCH on Stroke Recovery Rehabilitation: Music Therapy

    A new NIH-funded study is exploring the effectiveness of music therapy in stroke recovery. Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, a neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School, notes that when a person makes music, many different areas of the brain, including visual, auditory and motor areas are engaged.

           When stroke damages the speaking area of the brain, some people can still sing words, even if they can't say them. Dr. Schlaug is examining a  technique called music intonation therapy that aims to have patients learn to sing and mimic them rhythms of simple songs. Theoretically, this will encourage different regions of the brain to gradually take over some speaking functions.

    Results of the study are expected in 3 years. To read more about music and health, visit the official NIH newsletter, January 2010 at:

    For an abstract on the study:

    For additional resources to help you find information on medical, health, rehabilitation, recovery, self-empowerment, and more, we have collected our favorite links at:

    Contact us at or 703-241-2375.
    Special rates for newsletter & web:!
    *** Intensive Aphasia Therapy News ***

    As the readers of my newsletter know, I am continuing speech therapy with Bill Connors at the Pittsburgh Aphasia Treatment, Research and Education Center (PATREC).

    I am in Virginia and Bill is in Pittsburgh, but I see him 3 times a week over the Internet using my webcam on Skype or ooVoo. I set my goals and the pace. I have lots of homework, most that I do alone on my own schedule.

    My friends tell me they are impressed with my continuing improvement. I enjoy Bill's innovative approach and tools at

           For a complimentary consumer Q&A fact sheet, contact Bill Connors at or phone 724-494-2534.
    2. PAUL’S TIPS FOR SURVIVORS: Olympic Mental Focus

    The up-coming Vancouver winter Olympics is one way to think about stroke recovery, especially with aphasia. Olympic athletes must concentrate and focus their brainpower on their goal. I feel the same way about my aphasia--there is
    no cure, only strong willpower to force the words out, and deep mental focus on grammar.

           I spend time picturing how to form sounds--how my lips and teeth and tongue move. I try first to think and organize my thoughts, my sounds and my words before I talk. I am making new habits on how I start a sentence.

    Today my speech therapist--like a coach--showed me how to improve my use of the words: "may, could, should, would" (these are called auxiliary modal verbs). I understand action verbs like: "go, eat, drive, call," and I am
    learning when to add the auxiliary words to make a more complete sentence.

    While I practice, I imagine myself in the Olympic arena, racing around the grammar obstacles, with my family and friends in the stands cheering me on as I pull nouns and verbs and auxiliary modal verbs into sentences.

    Can you hear the crowds cheering you?

    If I can do it, you can do it, too.

    Other insights and tips for coping with life and taking control of your recovery after stroke are available on my website at

    Do you have a tip to share?  Send it to me at for a free gift if we use it.
           Stroke Comeback Center Chocolate Party - Feb 5 Mark your calendars! The Stroke Comeback Center, Vienna, Virginia is celebrating it's 6th year of success with "The Benefits of Chocolate" fundraising party, Friday, February 5, 2010, at Jammin' Java, 227 Maple Avenue, Vienna VA, from 7:30 - 11:30 p.m. Food, Chocolate Choices, Open Bar, Live Music and Auction. $75 per person.

           Ads in the program are welcome. For more information or to RSVP, contact Carol at

    I recently signed up for the online version of the "StrokeConnection" magazine, published by the American HeartAssociation--American Stroke Association. Obviously, the online version saves money for the Association and is one
    less item for me to decide where to keep, how to file, and when to toss.

           Ironically, as a thank-you gift for signing up for its online magazine, the AHA-ASA sent me, by regular post office mail, a little package of hard-cover, spiral-bound booklets for caregivers. My first response was concern that these would end up under yet another pile.

    However, as I paged through them, I realized that there are many books and tools that can be useful to have at your fingertips.

    One of the booklets was a listing of national resources with websites and phone numbers. You could make notes on the pages by the ones you wanted to contact, and there were blank pages in the back to add your own. There was also a combination calendar-journal, with colorful stickers to use as visual reminders for appointments, birthdays, etc.

    Over the years, I have learned to incorporate these items (although not the bright stickers) into my daytimer planner--calendar, phone numbers and addresses, and other important information. I also have a lot of this in my
    Outlook calendar and in files on my computer, and periodically go back and forth updating each source.

    There are times when I need to have the information off-line, and times when I want to forward it by email. And certainly the piles of papers and books around my house and office prove that we are some years away from a paper-less world.

    For more tips for caregivers, please visit:
    ** Combine Reading & Listening for Solutions & Adventure **
           Brighten Your Day With ATTITUDE!

    Brighten winter days with proven solutions, adventure, and motivation in these special new combination sets of:

           "How to Conquer the World With One Hand ...And an Attitude" and "YOU CAN DO IT, 105 Thoughts, Feelings and Solutions to Inspire You"

    Used by speech, OT & PT for classroom education and for client enrichment, these books were created by stroke survivor Paul Berger, for stroke survivors, families and professionals. Real life, real feelings, real thoughts,
    real everyday solutions.

           Combination set #1 offers both books in paperback book format for a discount of $3.50 !!

           Combination set #2 offers both books in audio CD format for a savings of $7.00 !!

    Order your sets from our secure online store:

           Books set only $19.95 plus shipping:

           Audio CDs set only $64.45 plus shipping:

    For details on these award-wining books and CDs, please visit:
    4. PAUL'S FAVORITES: E-Books

    One of my friends who travels and likes to read convinced me to try a digital book reading system. I selected's Kindle because it has a build-in text-to-speech function. Reading and hearing the words aloud at the same time significantly improves my understanding of the paragraph. You can highlight a word and check the definition.

           Best of all, it solves the one-handed problem of holding a book open and trying to turn the page, especially when reading on a sofa or in bed--you click a button with one finger. It is small, and its battery lasts a long time. It's not cheap, but you can save over time because the e-books are less expensive than the print version.

    To learn more, visit:

    For details on other Paul-tested helpful books and products, visit: and
    5. WHAT'S NEW on the Stroke web site.

    We're adding helpful new things to our web site all the time. Coming soon are links to:

           * The Quarterly Newsletter of


    We have many useful links for survivors, families and professionals on rehabilitation, motivation, and to regain fulfillment posted to our Resource Links pages. Visit:
    Would you like to view a previous month's newsletter? Visit our newsletter archive at:
    6. Study on Crime Against Persons with Disabilities U.S. Department of Justice Report

    The first national study on crime against persons with disabilities was recently released by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), Office of Justice Programs. The report showed that in 2007, persons age 12 or older with disabilities experienced about 716,000 nonfatal violent crimes, including rape or sexual assault (47,000), robbery (79,000), aggravated assaults (114,000) and simple assaults (476,000). They also experienced about
    2.3 million property crimes.

    The National Crime Victimization Survey--Crime Against People with Disabilities, 2007 can be downloaded from the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice website at:
    7. Stroke/Aphasia Reading problems?

    After a stroke, many people have reading and other language problems, known as "aphasia." Hearing a sentence read aloud helps to understand it. You can hear this newsletter read aloud while each word is highlighted on the computer screen with the FREE text reader software described at:

    Stroke survivors, family, friends, professionals...anyone seeking inspiration, motivation, and more!

           Find books, audio-books, tapes, and special tools created for stroke recovery by stroke survivor-expert, Paul Berger at:

    © Paul Berger and Stephanie Mensh
    Authors of "How to Conquer the World With One Hand... And an Attitude"
    Positive Power Publishing
    P.O. Box 2644,
    Merrifield, VA 22116
    Email: or

    Paul & Stephanie's January Stroke Survivor NewsletterSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Children Don’t Have Strokes? Just Ask Jared

    Alex di Suvero for The New York Times
    EMERGENCY Jared Dienst had walked to a park with his mother after school let out one day in June 2008 when he complained of a headache. He soon began to stumble, and his speech was slurred.

    Published: January 18, 2010
    My son Jared lay in a bed at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell hospital, limp and pale, his 7-year-old body tethered to a tangle of tubes and monitor wires.

    A neurologist, Dr. Maurine Packard, stood to his left. “Jared,” I recall her saying. “Pay attention to what I say.” And then, in a strong, firm voice: “The barn is red.”
    She waited a few moments and asked, “What color is the barn?”
    Jared started to answer, then froze. My wife and I, sitting behind Dr. Packard, froze too. Two days before, he had been a happy, athletic second grader, a beautiful boy who loved playing baseball and basketball in the park. Now he couldn’t walk; he had to struggle to remember the color of a barn.
    He tried again, and then replied in a weak, slurred voice.
    “No,” Jared said. Dr. Packard nodded, as if that was the answer she had expected.
    Before June 23, 2008, my wife, Victoria, and I had never heard of a child’s having a stroke. Most people, many doctors included, still haven’t. In the agonizing months that followed, we heard it over and over: “But children don’t have strokes.”
    How little we knew. It turns out that stroke, by some estimates, is the sixth leading cause of death in infants and children. And experts say doctors and hospitals need to be far more aggressive in detecting and treating it.
    Dr. Rebecca N. Ichord, director of the pediatric stroke program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who continues to be deeply involved in Jared’s care, said that while conditions like migraines and poisoning could cause similar symptoms, “front-line providers need to have stroke on their radar screen as a possible cause of sudden neurologic illness in children.”
    Dr. Heather J. Fullerton, a leading pediatric stroke researcher at the University of California, San Francisco, was even more emphatic. “When a child comes into an emergency room with strokelike symptoms,” Dr. Fullerton said, “it should be considered a stroke unless proven otherwise.”
    MONDAY, JUNE 23, 2008, 3:30 P.M. The afternoon was glorious — warm, sunny and breezy. Victoria picked up Jared at P.S. 183 on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and walked with him to the nearby St. Catherine’s Park.
    Suddenly, she saw him sit down, holding his head. She ran across the playground to find him dazed. “Mom,” he said. “My head hurts.”
    Her first thought was dehydration. She gave him some water. After a minute, she asked him if he wanted to try to stand.
    Jared rose but quickly began to stumble in an almost drunken zigzag. His left leg did not seem to be working. His words remained slurred, his gaze vacant. Then his eyes rolled up in his head.
    Victoria scooped him up and ran one block east, to Weill Cornell. “Stay awake, baby,” she kept telling him. “Just stay awake.”
    Slurred speech, droopy left eye, stiffness, a sudden inability to walk or even stand on his own: if an adult had come into an emergency room with similar symptoms, the staff might have quickly picked up these classic signs of stroke. But this patient was 7.
    “Did your son eat any poison? Does he suffer from seizures?” my wife remembers being asked. She shook her head no. She called me at my office. “Something’s very wrong with Jared.”
    In the cab to the hospital that afternoon, I did not know what to think. I certainly was not prepared for what was to come.
    Jared would face months of treatment and rehabilitation. The stroke would take an emotional toll on our family, including Jared’s twin sister, Nicole, and younger brother, Teddy. Vicki and I would soon seek out top specialists at hospitals across five states. Yet we would never get a definitive answer as to what caused our child’s stroke.
    MONDAY, 5 P.M. When I arrived, the pediatric emergency room was very busy. Jared was lying on a stretcher in a hallway. The attending doctor came over and asked him if he wanted to try to walk. The doctor helped him down, and Jared wobbled a few steps. He looked so awkward that I almost thought he was kidding around. The doctor grabbed him and had him lie back down. A CT scan was ordered.
    I went outside and called Jared’s pediatrician and my own physician. Listening to my description, they speculated that Jared had suffered a seizure and that the symptoms might go away over time.
    I went back inside. We took Jared for the scan. After a bit of a wait, we were told the results were normal.
    While Jared seemed stable, his condition had not improved. The attending doctor suggested we give it a little more time. But by now it had been nearly four hours since he collapsed. What if he got worse? We were told a call had been made to the neurology department.
    I stepped outside and called the department myself, saying it was an emergency. Dr. Packard quickly called back, and after a short discussion she said she would ask the E.R. doctors to send Jared for an M.R.I.
    Within minutes, a neurology fellow arrived. Jared was asked to try to touch the tip of his nose with his right pointer. He missed, touching his left cheek instead. When asked to try the same motion with his left hand, he could barely raise it.
    Jared was wheeled down hallways and into an elevator. I was told to wait outside the imaging room. All I could think was how terrifying it must be for my son, all alone, to be eased into that loud, white, tubular machine. The scans took 45 minutes. When it was over, the technicians told me Jared had done great, that he had actually fallen asleep for most of the test.

    NEXT (4 pages)

    Children Don’t Have Strokes? Just Ask JaredSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Word of the Week: Words

    I like to talk, I like to write, and I take my words for granted. Nearly ten years ago my uncle (pictured here with my son) was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Aphasia, a disorder of language that progresses over time. At first he had difficulty speaking. Then reading, spelling, and writing became challenging, too. For much of that time he could understand what others said to him, but had a hard time forming responses. More recently, conversation was nearly impossible.

    Throughout this time, he and his wife dealt with this frustrating condition with incredible grace. I am certain I would never have been as patient as either of them. Their strength and their love has been truly inspiring.

    Sadly, my uncle passed away yesterday. When I last saw him several months ago, I could only say hello and give him a hug. No other words were possible. I left that visit missing him. Even though he was there in the room, I realized how much you lose when you can't share words. So much of the connections we have with each other are about our conversations: voicing ideas, sharing endearments. We take our words for granted.

    I don't usually make requests here, but today I want you to do two things for me. The first thing is to remember the nicest thing someone ever said to you. Think about how their words made you feel. Think about how powerful a feeling it was to have someone acknowledge you, maybe praise you, compliment you, or thank you.

    The second thing I want you to do is to say something nice to someone else. Don't be stingy with your words! It's so easy to thank someone for their help, compliment a job well done, or simply tell them how much they mean to you. And it means so much to the person who hears it. Never, ever take your words for granted.

    To learn more about aphasia, please visit the National Aphasia Association.
    Posted by Emily
    Word of the Week: WordsSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Sunday, January 17, 2010

    My name is Robert Mayo

    My name is Robert Mayo. Several years ago a close friend had a stroke and acquired aphasia.  I built a device I call the commquick to help him communicate. He now carries it all the time wherever he is.  You can see the device at the following:

    It is a tool, not all aphasia patients will be able to use, but my friend loves it and uses it daily.

    Thank you for your time.
    Best Regards,
    Bob Mayo

    My name is Robert MayoSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Friday, January 15, 2010

    Aphasia Conversation Connection

    Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder due to damage to the language centers and pathways of the brain. Aphasia can limit listening comprehension, ability to recall words and produce sentences, as well as reading and writing. Aphasia can mask a person’s competence. People with aphasia know what they want to say, but cannot find the words to express it.
    Aphasia is usually due to stroke, but also can result from head trauma, brain tumors, or neurological disease. In this country, about 1 million people have aphasia, or one out of every 275 adults. It is almost twice as common as Parkinson’s disease. Public awareness about aphasia is minimal, however.
    Aphasia often persists after rehabilitation, resulting in diminished social participation, changes in self-image, and reduced quality of life. The Aphasia Conversation Connection (ACC) addresses the social communication needs of people with aphasia. The program is supported by the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Foundation.
    Stroke survivors with aphasia meet in a small group setting to:
    • Converse with others who are dealing with aphasia
    • Enhance social interaction skills 
    • Increase participation in social communication 
    • Gain confidence for facing the challenges of aphasia 
    • Communicate successfully within the parameters of aphasia 
    • Improve overall quality of life
    Trained group facilitators enhance and support communication among group participants. The needs and interests of the participants guide conversation and activities.
    To enroll in the Aphasia Conversation Connection program, participants must have a communication diagnosis of aphasia, complete an application form, and a have pre-enrollment interview. Groups meet at Barnes-Jewish Extended Care, 401 Corporate Park Dr. in Clayton. The cost is $10/session. We ask that people pay in advance for a series of 10 weekly sessions or 20 twice weekly sessions. A sliding scale is available for those who qualify.
    An Aphasia Caregiver Support Group meets monthly in the spring and fall of the year. There is no cost for this program.
    For information or to enroll, call or email Fran Tucker, Ph.D., CCC-SLP at (314) 273-0184 or
    Aphasia Conversation ConnectionSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Thursday, January 14, 2010


    Published: May 9, 1983
    Re-pubished: Thursday, January 14, 2010
    AGED couple is having a leisurely Sunday breakfast in a d iner when, suddenly, the man explodes in a torrent of obscenities. L eaning across the table, his wife sings softly into his ear, ' 'Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you.'' The man falls s ilent.
    Another woman bends over a bed to straighten her husband's socks. It has taken an hour to bathe and dress him and she is exhausted. She has forgotten that he likes to have the cuffs of his socks turned in a certain way. Enraged, he lashes out with his working arm, striking her. She begins to sob.
    A man sits on a couch beside his wife. ''Our children's names are Stephen and Alan,'' he recites. ''Our children's names are Stephen and Alan.'' The woman stares across the room. He holds a photograph to her face. ''Look, Stephen! Alan!''
    In each of these cases, one partner has suffered a stroke, a form of cardiovascular disease affecting the blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to the brain. While much has been written about physical changes in stroke, it is only in recent years that information on possible behavorial and emotional changes - and help in coping with them - has been available to victims and their families through so-called stroke clubs.
    The couples described are among 200 families in a club sponsored by Brooklyn College and run by professionals at its speech and hearing center. The club, known as Focus (Families Organized for Community Understanding of Stroke), offers a range of social, educational and rehabilitative programs, including a monthly self-help and support group. There, family members - mostly wives, but also husbands and children - discuss feelings about stroke and strategies for dealing with it.
    ''Stroke is a crisis that hits the entire family,'' says Dr. Gail Gurland, a speech pathologist and the program's clinical and research director. She and Sam Chwat, its executive director, have done studies on the impact of stroke on family members. Initial feelings of guilt, hostility and depression are common, they say, coupled with fears that another stroke may occur.
    In some ways, a stroke in the family is like any other medical crisis. Spouses frequently reverse roles -with wives of victims becoming the main breadwinners and husbands of victims taking over household duties. Children are called upon to manage parents' lives. There are the usual money worries and the usual problems of adjusting, at least temporarily, to restricted social and sexual activity.
    ''One thing that differentiates stroke from other devastating illness is that it is so abrupt and that it sometimes occurs relatively early in life,'' said Mr. Chwat, noting that an increasing number of the club's stroke victims are in their 30's, 40's and 50's.
    Another aspect is the communication problem. Roughly half the victims lose all or part of their linguistic facility, at least for a time. They may be unable to form intelligible words or sentences, to understand spoken or written language or to name objects.
    Rehabilitation programs help many to regain these facilities either fully or nearly so. Others experience continued speech and language difficulties, however, sometimes communicating by gestures, nonsense sounds or even curses.
    In the stroke club, spouses learn that cursing or ''automatic language'' as Dr. Gurland calls it, may be the only means of communication. When victims are unaware of their bizarre behavior, relatives use cues to alert or distract them. They may sing, for example, as the wife did in the diner.
    For the family, personality changes caused by stroke may be harder to bear than physical disabilities. In the weeks or months after a stroke, the patient may be irritable, demanding, self-centered. Unexplained bursts of crying or laughing are common. So are periods of depression, apathy and rage. While these symptoms generally disappear in time, they take their toll on the family.
    Though no statistics are available on divorce among stroke victims, Mr. Chwat said the rate in families studied at Brooklyn College seemed ''high.'' Pat Singer, whose husband suffered a stroke four years ago, agreed. ''That's why we come to the stroke club,'' she said. ''You could break up your marriage very easily or put your mate away in a nursing home very easily.''
    Mrs. Singer and her husband, Sam, who walks with a cane and a brace and who speaks few words, have undergone what the stroke club calls ''remaritalization.'' ''You have to understand you're not married to the same guy,'' she said. ''With speech therapy and physical therapy, they do get better, but not like before. My husband was a very macho man. He was the boss in our house. Now, I'm the boss, the mother, the everything.''
    In some ways, the Singers are closer now than before. Baseball, for one thing, brings them together. ''I was never interested in sports before,'' Mrs. Singer said. ''Now I watch the games on TV with him and I make sure I know what teams are winning. I'll be part of his world. He can't be part of mine.'' Georgia Dullea

    Parts of Speech Review

    Wednesday, January 13, 2010
    When we are in school we learn the parts of speech and their definitions.  Later, most people can remember things like "A noun is a person, place or thing." or "A verb is an action."  It is all of the other parts of speech that we forget.  It is not until your fourth grader comes home with homework that it all starts to come back to you.  I thought I would do a little review of the definitions of the parts of speech and some other terms we learned in elementary grammar lessons.  In language therapy, if a child is having difficulty with grammar, we will focus on specific areas of weakness.  Some students need to be more descriptive in their writing so we work on adjectives.  Some students have difficulty with irregular plural nouns or verb tense agreement. I will not get into the complications of the language such as when words are sometimes pronouns and sometimes adjectives for example.  Anyone interested in more than the basics can feel free to research this topic. Here is a list of terms with examples. Some you may remember and some may be unfamiliar.

    Common Noun: A word used to label a person, place, thing or idea such as ball, home, or happiness.
    Proper Noun: Names a particular person, place or thing and is capitalized, such as Bob, Chicago, or  the Declaration of Independence.
    Pronoun: A word that takes the place of  one or more nouns such as he, she, it, both, you.
    Adjective: A word used to modify a noun or pronoun. It will often be a word that will answer the questions What kind? Which one? How many? or How much?  Examples : tall, last, many.
    Article:  The most frequently used adjectives: a, an, the.
    Proper Adjective: An adjective formed from a proper noun which will also be capitalized such as:  American flag.
    Action Verb: A word that expresses a physical or mental action such as run, or imagine.
    Linking Verb:  A word that helps to make a statement by linking the subject and predicate. The most common are the forms of the verb be: am, is , are, was, were, been, be, being, been.  Other common linking verbs are: seem, taste, become.
    Helping Verb: A word that accompanies other verbs to make a verb phrase. Some examples are will, have been.  She will walk.  They have been wondering.
    Adverb: A word used to modify an adjective, verb or another adverb.  Usually answers questions When? Where? How? and To what extent? Examples: It started here. He threw the ball far.
    Preposition: A word that combines with a noun or a pronoun to make a phrase. Examples: in, on, under, from, off, through, against.
    Conjunction:  A word that joins words or groups of words. 
          Coordinating Conjunctionand, but, or, nor, yet
          Correlative Conjunction:  Found in pairs with other words between them: either...or, neither...nor,
                 not only...but also.
          Subordinating Conjunction: A word that introduces an adverb clause such as since, as, because, or 
                 if .
    Interjection: A word that expresses emotion and is not related to other words in the sentence grammatically.  Examples: Oh! Wow! Well, 
    Parts of Speech ReviewSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    Improving the Outcome of Stroke

    The majority of strokes occur when a blood clot lodges in a blood vessel, blocking blood flow to a portion of your brain (ischemic stroke). The group of brain cells normally nourished by the oxygen in the affected blood vessels dies almost immediately after blood flow is blocked, while surrounding brain cells experience reduced blood flow.
    Although the benefits of early stroke treatment are clear, only a small percentage of people who have a stroke receive optimal treatment. Almost half the 167,000 people who die of stroke each year die before they ever reach a hospital, and a greater percentage of these people are women. Why? Most of the evidence points toward a delay in seeking or receiving treatment.
    Knowing the risk factors for stroke, recognizing the warning signs and seeking prompt emergency care can help improve the outcome if you or someone you know has a stroke.
    Every Second Counts
    The majority of strokes occur when a blood vessel, blocking blood flow to a portion of your brain (ischemic stroke). Similar to a heart attack, a stroke can be considered a “brain attack”. The group of brain cells normally nourished by the oxygen in the affected blood vessel dies almost immediately after the blood is blocked, while surrounding brain cells experience reduced blood flow. Your brain cells can tolerate this slowdown in blood flow only briefly before permanent damage begins to occur. The longer the wait until blood flow is restored, the more damage that’s done.
    Stroke is a potentially treatable disease when caught early on its onset. Given the narrow window of opportunity to halt stroke damage and prevent serious complications, prompt treatment is critical to obtaining the best possible outcome.
    What’s Behind the Delay
    There are many possible reasons why people put off seeking treatment for stroke symptoms. One may be lack of awareness of the symptoms of stroke. Signs and symptoms of heart attack have been drilled into the public consciousness on a much greater and more widespread level than have the warning signs of stroke.
    Another important factor – and one that is inherently harder to address – is that symptoms of stroke can be disabling, leading to impaired movement, communication and thinking. This can prevent a person from calling for help and is particularly concerning for the person who lives alone.
    Surprisingly, perhaps, calling your doctor instead of calling an emergency number such as 911 is another cause for delay. After hearing your symptoms, your doctor will most likely tell you to seek emergency care, but in the meantime, precious minutes are lost. When you experience signs and symptoms of stroke (or heart attack), call 911 or your local emergency number immediately.
    Individual characteristics also have an effect on how long it takes to seek help. For example, not taking your symptoms seriously, wanting to tough it out for being unaware that you’re at risk can all contribute to delay in treatment.
    More pre-hospital stroke deaths occur among women than among men, and research suggests that women experience longer delays to treatment than men do. Why this occurs is unclear, but part of the reason may be that women, and sometimes their doctors, aren’t always fully aware or convinced that they’re at risk of heart disease and stroke.
    The Importance of Prompt Treatment
    Possibly the most effective treatment for ischemic stroke, and the one most likely to improve your chances of a full recovery, is injection of a clot-busting (thrombolytic) drug – such as a tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) – to dissolve a blood clot.
    Sometimes this clot-buster is delivered through your artery system directly to the site of the blockage. The drug may also be given into a vein, in which case the therapy must start within three hours of the onset of symptoms. After this period, the risks of the therapy – bleeding and possible brain hemorrhage – begin to outweigh its benefits. Some cases of ischemic stroke may not be compatible with TPA therapy. TPA therapy also isn’t used to treat hemorrhagic stroke, a less common type of stroke caused by a blood vessel rupturing and bleeding into the brain.
    Other treatment options available at some medical centers include use of a tiny instrument called a “retrieval device” that can directly remove the clot from the blocked artery. New treatments are under study, as well. All of these potential treatments require prompt medical attention. Clot-busting therapy must start within three hours of the onset of symptoms. After this period, the risks of the therapy – bleeding and possible brain hemorrhage – begin to outweigh it’s benefits.
    After an ischemic stroke, your doctor may perform several tests, including blood tests and an evaluation of your arteries and heart. This will assist your doctor in determining the best way of preventing another stroke. A program to prevent further strokes may include use of certain blood thinners, and your doctor may recommend surgery or a balloon procedure to unblock or widen the arteries to your brain if they’re severely narrowed.
    Reducing Your Risk
    Women are just as much at risk of stoke as are men, so don’t make the mistake of thinking the possibility of a stroke doesn’t apply to you. In addition, many factors can increase your risk. Some factors you can’t control, such as a family history of stroke and increasing age. But there are other risk factors that are more manageable, including high blood pressure or cholesterol levels, smoking, diabetes, obesity, physical inactivity, drug and alcohol abuse, and cardiovascular disease. The risk associated with these factors can often be reduced through diet, exercise and medications, when needed.
    There are also risk factors to which women may be particularly susceptible. These include migraines with aura (visual disturbances preceding a migraine); use of oral contraceptives or oral hormone therapy; autoimmune diseases, such a lupus; or a clotting disorder, sometimes indicated by multiple miscarriages, blood clots in your lungs or legs, or a condition marked by purplish, net-like discoloration of your skin (livedo reticularis ).
    Your doctor can help you estimate your personal risk of developing cardiovascular disease, including stroke, over the next ten years. Knowing what your risk is can motivate you to take the steps needed to prevent a stroke.
    Recognizing Signs and Symptoms of Stoke
    Knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke may make it possible for you or someone you know to get prompt treatment. The warning signs usually occur suddenly; frequently there’s more than one. They include:
    1. Sudden numbness, weakness or paralysis of your face, or leg – usually on one side of your body.
    2. Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding speech (aphasia).
    3. Sudden blurred, double or decreased vision.
    4. Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or loss of coordination.
    5. A sudden, severe, “bolt out of the blue” headache or an unusual headache, which may be accompanied by a stiff neck, vomiting or decreased consciousness.
    6. Confusion, or problems with memory, spatial orientation or perception.
    If these symptoms occur briefly and then go away, you may be experiencing a transient ischemic attack (TIA). A TIA is a temporary interruption of blood flow to a part of your brain. The signs and symptoms of TIA are the same as for a stroke, but they last for a shorter period – several minutes to 24 hours – and then disappear, without leaving apparent permanent effects. A TIA should be taken very seriously. It indicates an underlying risk that a full-blown stroke may follow. See a doctor immediately.
    Improving the Outcome of StrokeSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

    What Now? Brain recovery Lessons Part 2 of 2

    For more information on this DVD and the Book visit

    Have you or a family member suffered from a stroke or a brain s brain injury?

    What Now? Sharing Brain Recovery Lessons: A wonderful, short film designed to inspire and encourage. View the film here by clicking on the name of the film. If you wish a DVD of the film, please email us to find out how to obtain one.

    Narrated by Alison, the film features interviews with five stroke survivors who have inspiring stories to tell. More about this DVD and the Author Alison Shapiro:

    Alison Bonds Shapiro, MBA

    Alison Bonds Shapiro had two debilitating and nearly fatal brain stem strokes in her early fifties. She was profoundly disabled and, she believed, without a productive future. Today, after a remarkable recovery, she is a motivational speaker, an active business consultant, artist, writer, college board chair, and engaged grandmother.

    In the process of facing the depth of her injuries, Alison discovered that her attitude could and would change everything. She came to understand this simple truth: It's not what happens to us that makes the difference. It's how we deal with what happens to us that will determine the rest of our lives. Difficult times come to all us. We each can discover possibilitiies in any circumstance.

    An eloquent speaker and gifted storyteller, Alison's speaking engagements inspire and teach. Over and over again her audiences tell her that she has changed their lives and given them tools to face their challenges.

    Alison's published art and illustration includes: Just for Today, The Adventures of Tigy and Elly, and the primary image for Mind Matters Research.

    Her published writing includes Healing into Possibility; The Transformational Lessons of a Stroke and various articles.

    Sought after for her advice on a wide range of topics, both business and personal, Alison is the owner of Illuminating Solutions a consulting firm specializing in small family businesses. Her work leads her clients in the discovery and implementation of creative solutions.

    Among her many volunteer activities, Alison chairs the Board of Trustees of Saybrook University.

    For more info visit
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