Nearly 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke every year. It is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability.
But therapy and support can help.
The Stroke Support Group at Aurora BayCare Medical Center is helping victims deal with the after effects of stroke.
The Stroke Support Group is also taking part in the ‘Unmasking Brain Injury Project’. It gives survivors of stroke and other traumatic brain injuries a chance to voice their desire for dignity and respect.
Kathy Jadin is painting her mask to tell her stroke story, “I’m thinking about how I could show people visually what goes on in my brain.” Kathy Jadin, stroke survivor.
Five years ago Kathy and her husband were vacationing when, “I lost my vision and I really couldn’t articulate what was going on 246,” Kathy was rushed to a clinic, “They diagnosed me with a stroke.”
The stroke left her with some difficulties with reading comprehension and memory, “It’s easier for me now to say when I’m having trouble finding words and I’m in a social setting with many people and my words won’t flow,” said Kathy.
Kathy joined the Stroke Support Group at Aurora BayCare Medical Center 2 1/2 years ago. The group meets once a month for survivors, caregivers and family, “It does give them an opportunity to work through some of their every day struggles and it gives them a chance to talk about resources that they might not know about,” said Rachel Reas, Stroke Support Group Facilitator, Aurora BayCare Medical Center.
Kathy says the support group has helped her heal from her stroke, “It is my touch base with the reality that I’ve had a stroke and what I need to do and the support I get from the wonderful people.”
The group is taking part in an international campaign called ‘Unmasking Brain Injury Project’ that promotes brain injury awareness, “Using art, different colors and different textures is a good way for them to express how they are feeling and things they might be dealing with,” said Reas.
Each survivor decorates their mask and writes a background- to show their hidden feelings, “Is it anger, is it fear, is it happiness?” said Reas.
The masks were displayed in the hospital lobby to share their message with others, “I think it’s a great way to get the conversation started about stroke awareness, stroke signs and symptoms,” said Reas.
“I hope that gives them an understanding of what the after effects of a stroke can be,” said Kathy.
With the help of the support group- Kathy is enjoying her new normal, “we’ve got a shared experience that is a bond so its kind of my monthly cheers.”
The masks the group decorated are now on their way to be part of a national exhibit.