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Monday, April 19, 2010

Paul & Stephanie's April Stroke Survivor Newsletter

1. NEWS: RESEARCH on Stroke Recovery & Rehabilitation:
       Surgery v. Stent to Prevent Stroke--Study Results
Treatment to prevent stroke in people with blocked carotid arteries may include carotid endarterectomy (CEA), an established surgical procedure to clear the plaque blocking the blood flow, or carotid artery stenting (CAS), a newer and less invasive procedure that involves threading a stent and expanding a small protective device in the artery to widen the blocked area and capture any dislodged plaque.
Recently, study results were reported from the Carotid Revascularization Endarterectomy vs. Stenting Trial (CREST), comparing these two treatments in 2,500 patients. Overall, they showed equal benefits for both men and women,
and for patients who had previously had a stroke and those who had not.

       There were some differences in the rate of heart attacks and strokes following each of these procedures, and indications that patients over 70 had better outcomes with surgery, and patients under 70 had better outcomes with stenting.

This landmark trial was funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). For details visit: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/feb2010/ninds-26.htm
For additional resources to help you find information on medical, health, rehabilitation, recovery, self- empowerment, and more, we have collected our favorite links at: http://www.strokesurvivor.com/resource_links.html.
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2. PAUL’S TIPS FOR SURVIVORS:
       Speech-Language Grammar Websites
I am learning a new way to improve my speech and language skills by taking time to think before I talk. Some of my thinking time is used to focus on the noun, the verb, the object, and other details I need to make the sentence.
I do not remember most of the grammar I learned my first time around in grades 1-12 and college (and Stephanie says she also doesn't remember). Therapists can help, but you need to find other tools. So I use the Internet to research and relearn the basics of grammar.

       Do you know how to use a "modal auxiliary verb"? Can you name a "modal"?  Modal auxiliary verbs may sound difficult, but in fact they're easy: can, could, have to, must, should, would.

       Most people use modals everyday: "Can you mee me at 5:00?"  "I should finish my project first." "I have to take out the garbage." "Could you pass the ketchup."

       These are hard for me, but I am learning.

When I googled "grammar," I found almost 8 million entries. Here are some websites and tools I like:

       http://www.englishclub.com/grammar/ English grammar and exercises especially for English as a Second Language (a good system for people with aphasia)

       http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/grammar/tenses.html
       Summary of verb tenses

       http://leo.stcloudstate.edu/index.html
       Literacy Education Online: many how-to-write guides

       http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/index2.htm
       Guide to grammar & writing: over 400 topics

       http://www.learnenglish.de/grammarpage.htm
       Learn English Free Guide to Grammar

       http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/section/1/5/
       Lessons include exercises to test your skill

What grammar and speech-language sites do you like?
Other insights and tips for coping with life and taking control of your recovery after stroke are available on my website at http://www.strokesurvivor.com.
Do you have a tip to share?  Send it to me at Paul@strokesurvivor.com for a free gift if we use it.
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*** Celebrate Occupational Therapy Month ***
April is Occupational Therapy Month, an excellent time to celebrate living life to the fullest after stroke. Occupational therapists help stroke survivors re-learn daily activities like grooming, dressing, cooking, and participating at home and in the community. They also research ways to regain the use of paralyzed arms and hands.
Hobbies and crafts help stroke survivors re-learn tasks like cutting and painting using one hand while expressing creativity.

       Celebrate OT Month by finding a new hobby or finding new ways to return ur favorite hobby with Paul Berger's "How to Conquer Hobbies With One   Hand--50 Tips and Tools to Make Things."  For details & easy on-line ordering, visit: http://www.strokesurvivor.com/hobbies.html

To learn more about Occupational Therapy after stroke, visit the American Occupational Therapy Association at: http://www.aota.org
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3. STEPHANIE’S TIPS FOR CAREGIVERS: Financial Preparedness
Every year after we file our taxes, we learn something new about organizing our finances and being prepared for the unexpected. For our 2009 tax return, our accountant needed some details that dated back to over 20 years ago, just
before Paul's stroke.
We spent hours going through dusty old boxes of records. We had those records because the first lesson that Paul's stroke taught me was to hold onto medical records and financial paperwork.
Here are some other financial lessons learned:

       * Find an accountant to do your taxes. Ask questions, and push for information on medical expenses, insurance premiums, tax credits for handicapped accessibility, appropriate withholding amounts, avoiding penalties, and any special credits relating to your family's circumstances.

       * Reassess your income tax withholding for 2010 and be sure it's consistent with your circumstances this year. Last year, my work hours were adjusted, but I didn't adjust my withholding, so I owed money on April 15.

       * Understand what medical, employment, and financial documents you need to keep. Make a place for them and keep them there. Scan in paper copies, request copies by email, and set up computer folders for these documents. We use Quicken to keep a record of our checkbook and pay most of our bills online now.

       * Find a financial planner who can give you the total picture of health, life, disability, and long term care  insurance, as well as social security, workers and unemployment compensation, and retirement planning for both the caregiver and the stroke survivor. The new health reform law should mean that stroke survivors won't be excluded from health insurance based on their pre-existing condition and lifetime limits. There are local government agencies and non-profit organizations that can assist with counseling if you can't afford an independent planner.

       * Find ways to lower the stress level around money issues. The economy and job situation is difficult for everyone, and certainly worse for most families with a member who has suffered a stroke. Some people find that establishing a budget gives knowledge and control. When cutting expenses, try to be as fair as possible. This means leaving a little room for the caregiver to have a treat from time to time.

For more tips for caregivers, please visit:
http://www.strokesurvivor.com/articles_and_tips.html.
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 *** 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. Sometimes I study with one of Bill's clients.

       This month, I am working on verb tenses. Bill gives me a verb like "take" and I say, "I take the cake." Then I expand it to a compound verb, like "am taking": "I am taking your cake." We do tenses, too: "will take" (future); took" (past). Bill gave me a list of suggested verbs to start. I practice with his list, and add my own verbs. I use the 4 tenses to write a page of sentences.

My friends tell me they are impressed with my continuing improvement. I enjoy Bill's innovative approach and tools at http://www.aphasiatoolbox.com.

       For a complimentary consumer Q&A fact sheet, contact Bill Connors at bill@aphasiatoolbox.com or phone 724-494-2534.
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4. PAUL'S FAVORITES: Video Tech

The Wii virtual reality video games have many uses in stroke recovery. In our March newsletter we reported on a recent study that showed improved recovery of paralyzed hands when clients spent hours on a Wii virtual cooking or
virtual tennis game. Other Wii virtual sports and exercises improve balance, and clear your brain after speech therapy or other hard work.
You can buy the Wii system at electronics and department stores and through Amazon and other online stores. To see the system and learn more, visit:
http://tinyurl.com/Wii-for-Stroke
For details on other Paul-tested helpful books and products, visit:
http://www.strokesurvivor.com/reading_list.html and
http://www.strokesurvivor.com/lifestyle_products.html
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       Solutions to Inspire You"

[1] Combination set #1 offers both books in paperback book format for a discount of $3.50 !! http://tinyurl.com/Combo-1-Books-only-19-95
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       For details on these award-wining books and CDs,
       visit: http://www.strokesurvivor.com/products.html
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5. WHAT'S NEW on the Stroke Survivor.com web site.
We're adding helpful new things to our web site all the time. Coming soon are links to:
       * NIH Senior Health: Exercise and Physical Activity for Older Adults

We have many useful links for survivors, families and professionals on rehabilitation, motivation, and to regain fulfillment posted to our Resource Links pages. Visit: http://www.strokesurvivor.com/resource_links.html.
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*** ADVERTISE YOUR PRODUCT OR SERVICE IN OUR NEWSLETTER ***
Contact us at Paul@strokesurvivor.com or 703-241-2375.
Special rates for newsletter & web: www.strokesurvivor.com!
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Would you like to view a previous month's newsletter? Visit our newsletter archive at: http://www.strokesurvivor.com/newsletter.html
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6. 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:
http://www.strokesurvivor.com/disability_access.html
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***FIND INSPIRATION AND SOLUTIONS AT STROKESURVIVOR.COM***
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: http://www.strokesurvivor.com/products.html
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