HealthWatch: Stroke Recovery Support

Health Watch

Recovering from a stroke can be a long, difficult, often lonely journey. One local man shares his story of how he found the support he needed to keep going.

“I lost my identity that day.  Part of me died” That’s how Jim from Northeast Wisconsin, describes the day he suffered a stroke.

“I wasn’t prepared at 55 that I as going to lose my job,” Jim said. “And it wasn’t easy to come home and tell my wife there’s no more paychecks coming in.”

Fortunately, Jim found the support he says he needed through Aurora Baycare Medical Center’s Stroke Support group.

“Just  to bring stroke survivors, as well as their caregivers together as a way to offer emotional support to one another,” said Karen Floriano-Heimerl, a speech-language pathologist with Aurora BayCare.

Both Jim and Floriano-Heimerl say that support is an essential part of stroke recovery.

“It’s very helpful to anyone who’s had a brain injury or a stroke,” Jim said. “You don’t have to go through this alone.”

Neither do caregivers

“It’s overwhelming for the individual who suffers the stroke, it’s overwhelming for the spouse, who now is not only their spouse, but their caregiver,” explained Jim.

Floriano-Heimerl says in addition to emotional support, the group offers education and other resources throughout the recovery journey.

“Things that will help them as they continue the journey after stroke, which goes on for years, it’s not just the first 6 months to a year,” she said. “Support groups are a great option at any point in the recovery.”

The support group also offers one thing that’s often need more than anything else.

“We actually have fun.  There’s a lot of positivity in the group as well,” Floriano-Heimerl said.

Jim says all of those things have played a huge role in his recovery, but it’s not what he gets from the stroke support group that means the most to him. Rather, what he’s able to give.

“If I can walk through that door and somebody notices me and it inspires them to get rid of that cane thinking, ‘If he can do it then maybe I can,'” Jim said.

The stroke support group meets once a month, virtually right now, but organizers say they’re hoping to be back in-person soon.

To learn more call Aurora BayCare at 1-866-938-0035 or email:

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