Saturday, August 8, 2009

Preventing another Stroke

Did you know that if you have had a stroke, your chances of suffering a second stroke are greatly increased? Most survivors have been made aware of this increased risk during the recovery process. Actually, your likelihood of experiencing another stroke is 9 times greater than the average person's risk.

Having said all of that, I recently read an alarming report. The report said that about 30% of stroke survivors are not taking necessary actions to prevent another stroke. They are basically living the same way they lived prior to their stroke.

Are you kidding me?

If I know my risk is greater and I know ways to possibly prevent another stroke, why not do it? As you know stroke is a life changer.

Just in case you don't know the ways you can live to prevent another stroke, here they are:
  • Control your blood pressure. Monitor it and take steps to control it.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Reduce sodium (salt) in your diet. Check food packages for sodium content.
  • Start exercising. Walk, run, swim, get moving.
  • Keep your alcohol intake to a minimum.
  • Eat a low fat, low cholestrol diet. You may need to get educated on how to do this, but do it.

There are more ways that will help prevent another stroke, but these are the big ones.

Again, you may want to check out or for more ideas. These are two great magazines that can help.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Aphasia Isolates People

According to a 2004 survey conducted by the National Aphasia Association (, people with Aphasia feel isolated and therefore isolate themselves from others.

The survey respondents said the following:

95% said people with Aphasia tend to feel isolated because of their Aphasia
97% said people tend to avoid people with Aphasia all or some of the time
40% of people with Aphasia had no contact with others with Aphasia

If any of the above statements describe you or your loved one suffering from Aphasia, please realize that you are not alone.

The last statement regarding the 40% of people with Aphasia that have no contact with others suffering from Aphasia is most troubling to me. If you are a caregiver to someone with Aphasia, please, please try to get them to an Aphasia support group. If you live in a metro area, you can probably find a group. If you live in a less populated area, look online.

Go to the National Aphasia Association website ( to find someone in your area to help.

Your goal as caregiver should be to re-integrate your loved one into our communication-filled society.

You will probably need to take 'baby steps', but you must take steps. As you know, trying new things can be awkward, intimidating, and stressful, but this process is vitally important to the recovery process of your loved one.

I wish you the very best in your efforts!

Visit my website,, if you need more aphasia therapy for expressive aphasia. We produce aphasia therapy on DVDs for effective, easy to use therapy solutions.

Understanding People with Aphasia

Often times, Aphasia has a devastating effect on the sufferer and their family. Aphasia can turn an outgoing, gregarious person into an introverted wallflower.

I recently had the privilege to give speech therapy to a wonderful older lady suffering from Expressive Aphasia. Prior to her stroke and subsequent aphasia, she was very involved in her church. Her daughter spoke of her mother's involvement and the daughter would encourage her mother with the promise of future involvement with the church group.

My patient, the mother, told me repeatedly that she did not want to go back to church. "No one will understand me." "Everybody will be uncomfortable trying to talk to me." This woman had been attending this church for over 30 years. My heart broke for her. I set a personal goal that she was going back to church - at least once.

After several months of therapy, she did return to her church. To her surprise and delight, everyone was thrilled to see her. People made her feel comfortable. Her friends talked to her with no awkwardness. Everyone was so accepting. Hallelujah!

After her initial visit to church, I noticed a change in her attitude - a change in her demeanor. She had more confidence. She was motivated to do more.

Why do I tell you this story?

If you have a loved one suffering from Expressive Aphasia, they probably do not want to go back into a social setting any time soon. I strongly encourage you to softly and consistently encourage them to go somewhere that requires social interaction. At the same time, I encourage you to try and set up a very 'friendly' initial social setting that will insure success (ie. feeling good about communicating again) for your aphasia sufferer.

I wish you the Best!

If you need more Aphasia Therapy for Expressive Aphasia, go to my website We produce aphasia therapy on DVDs that can be used independently at home or in conjunction with your speech therapist.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Communication Tips for Caregivers of People with Aphasia

Many people ask me , "What can I do at home to help?". I am listing a few admittedly basic, but sometimes overlooked suggestions on how to communicate with your loved one.

Sometimes it is hard to remember that Aphasia does not affect a person's intellect. People suffering from Expressive Aphasia know what is going on around them. They realize that people are whispering in front of them or speaking loudly or using baby talk. They understand perfectly, they just cannot make the words come out of their mouths.

Here are a few tips:

1. Refer to the paragraph above and realize that Expressive Aphasia is a communication disorder and not a cognitive impairment. This should always dictate how you respond to your loved one.
2. Be a loving partner. You are not a therapist, so don't be their therapist. Be an encouragement. Be a supporter. Partner with them in the process.
3. At least once a day sit down and have a pleasant conversation with your loved one. Spend at least 15 minutes talking about whatever comes up. This is GREAT practice for a person with Aphasia. The more time you can converse back and forth - the better.

I have a lot more suggestions I will save for another day.

If you have any ideas or tips, please feel free to comment. The purpose of this blog is to foster interaction among readers and hopefully provide an amount of support for people with Aphasia and their caregivers.

If you need more Aphasia Therapy for Expressive Aphasia, go to my website We produce aphasia therapy on DVDs that can be used independently at home or in conjunction with a speech therapist.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Most Important Ingredients for Recovery

Last night I saw a former patient of mine. I was at a restaurant with my husband when an attractive young man made his way to my table. At first I did not recognize him. Then, I realized that in 2003, I had helped in his recovery. What a difference 6 years has made in his life. He showed no signs of his past struggles.
In 2003 I first met him in an acute care facility. He had suffered a tramautic brain injury and had a myriad of problems. He was in a veiled bed when I first met him. Basically, that is a bed enclosed by a net so the person cannot get out of bed and harm themselves.
During the course of the next several months he was at our facility he made a lot of progress. I actually fed him his first meal (pureed food) after his accident. When he left our facility he still had lots of work to do. Honestly, I felt he would never be the same. When he left our medical center he could barely hold his head up, but his time was "up".
Last night, he was at the restaurant with his mother. They told me of the struggles of the past 6 years and his courageous efforts to continue to make progress. He told me the key ingredients to his recovery.
1. Family Support. Without the constant encouragement, love and support of his family, he would not have continued to do all of the hard, "boring" therapies.
2. Belief he would get better. This ingredient goes hand in hand with the first one. His family sincerely believed that he would get better. They never gave up! They told me of the various facilities and home health care agents they had experienced through the years. They always were looking for solutions.
If you have a loved one that is recovering from a stroke or brain injury, please understand that the role you play is a very vital one.
If you need more Aphasia Therapy for Expressive Aphasia, go to my website We produce Aphasia Therapy on DVDs that can be used at home independently or in conjunction with a speech therapist.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Need More Information and More Therapy

I spoke to a man whose mother is suffering from Aphasia and he and his family are very frustrated. Sound familiar?
Nobody is ever prepared for a stroke or brain injury and the destruction they leave behind. I hear stories each week with a similar theme.
The survivor is being released from medical care, but they have not yet fully recovered. The family looks for solid answers for therapy (both physical and cognitive), but those solutions are hard to find.
The cold hard truth to you - the family and survivor - is that recovery is your responsibility. You and you alone determine how far to go in therapy efforts. The sooner you can realize and internalize that reality, the better you will be.
Health care providers can only do so much. In today's environment, health care is often constrained and limited by a myriad of reasons and regulations.
Recovery from a stroke or cognitive impairment is hard work! Therapy usually takes a long time and it does not and should not stop when you are released from full time or out-patient care.
Don't give up. Keep Looking for answers. Answers will come slowly just like the recovery progress.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I actually had a patient today that I saw who had a stroke less than a month ago and is now receiving outpatient speech therapy. She has aphasia but is able to get some words out, just enough for the listener to get the idea of what she is trying to say (most of the time). As many people affected with aphasia, she was completely independent before this stroke. She is still independent for the most part, but just can't communicate. It is obvious to me as her therapist that there is some depression present. Of course, who can blame her? I told her about the Stroke Support Group that meets at our facility once a month, thinking it would be a wonderful outlet for her, to meet other people who are in her shoes. After telling her about it, it was apparent to me she was not interested. What I gathered from our limited conversation was that she would be uncomfortable in a setting like that. Unable to communicate and around a bunch of strangers, I do understand her point. However, I want to emphasize how wonderfully these groups are put together. She may not think it would be something she would benefit from, but I feel confident that if she would try, she would think differently. I write this to encourage everyone who has suffered from a stroke or head injury OR who has a loved one who has (these groups are for caregivers too!), give your local support group a try. You might be surprised what you will find.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Did you know that there are two magazine publications that focus on stroke and the issues with life after suffering a stroke that are FREE? All you have to do is subscribe. "Stroke Connection" is published by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. You can subscribe by going to the website The second, "Stroke Smart", is published by the National Stroke Association. Their website is Both are wonderful magazines with many tips and articles, many written by survivors of stroke or their caregivers. They are both definitely worth subscribing to.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Like I said in my profile, I have developed speech therapy DVDs for individuals who have been affected with aphasia. Since I began this company, I cannot tell you how many phone calls I have received from family members calling not only to find out more about our products but mostly just to have someone to talk to. What should have been a 5 minute conversation often turns into a 45 minute conversation. Who can blame them? Their lives have been completely turned upside down due to someone close to them (parent, spouse, child, etc) suffering a stroke or other brain injury. Their loved one, who they used to share intimate conversations with, can no longer communicate effectively (not to mention all the new physical limitations that come with it too). No one can prepare for this. There is no class that teaches you, "What to do in case of your loved one suffering a stroke". Who can they reach out to that can give them some answers? Where do they go from here? There is so much desperation in their voices, which is why I created this blog. I welcome your questions, stories, experiences and any advice you would like to pass along to others. Hopefully, something said can be of help to others.