David, 67, was a retired mechanical engineer, who lived alone. He had his stroke in September 2016, and was seen for speech and language therapy for 7 months. His stroke left him with no speech, but he was able to understand what people said.
David and his speech and language therapist spent a long time working together on alternative ways of communicating. David took a shine to the use of his iPad as a way of communicating with others. He used the app ‘Predictable’ and also would use the internet and pictures to reduce the barrier of no speech.
David used to go to the football every Saturday to watch his beloved Chelsea, he didn’t feel confident enough to do this, as he would be seeing familiar faces, and having to communicate in such a different way. He did not feel ready to do this, even though this was a big part of his life he missed.
His speech therapist suggested his local stroke communication group, David went along and 9 months later goes every week, and reports back to the group how Chelsea played the previous Saturday. David attended the group and after 4 months of increasing his confidence and having positive interactions with his peers using his iPad and having their support, he returned back to watching football.
Getting back to a new normal post stroke
When all of the NHS therapy appointments have stopped and you’re trying to adjust back to some sort of normality, it can feel like your world has become very small. Having a communication difficulty following a stroke can make interacting with the world around you seem impossible. Feeling like this is not unusual and can cause you to question what your future will look like.
Adjusting to your new situation is difficult for yourself and the loved ones around you. This takes time and involves the courage to accept what has happened and to look forward. What you need to remember is you are not alone and you can go out, meet new people and enjoy the aspects of life you once used to.
Although you have had your friends and family around you, supporting you through your recovery, living with a communication difficulty is hard to understand unless you’ve been through it yourself. This is why accessing local stroke groups in your area is a great way to seek support from someone who can relate to what you have been through and is a great way of building up your confidence to get back out doing what you enjoy.
What groups are there?
The two main organisations in the U.K that provide groups are ‘The Stroke Association’ and ‘Headway’ but there are also locally formed groups in your area. Depending on your local area will depend on what types of groups are available to you.
The Stroke Association is the UK’s leading stroke charity and is a vital resource for anyone who has had a stroke. The website offers support in understanding what a stroke is and the affects is causes along with a directory of groups. The stroke association offers different types of groups; long-term support, stroke clubs and communication groups. All of these groups allow someone to meet individuals who have also survived a stroke and for them to share their story. These groups give someone the time to build up their confidence in a safe environment and slowly integrate back into society at their own pace. The communication groups are a particularly a great supportive space for someone to adjust to any communication difficulties they are having and to practice any new communication strategies they have been given.
This is a UK wide brain injury charity and has branches and groups around the country. There website is another great resource with lots of information and guidance on living with a brain injury and what other support is out there to access. Headways services are open to anyone with a brain injury and depending on your local branch they can offer a range of services; support groups, help with returning to work, support with volunteering opportunities and even exercise groups. All of these services allow someone to return to some normality in their life but at the same time with support, knowledge and advice.
Importance of socialising to recovery
Trying to return to some normality after a stroke can be difficult, scary and daunting. Accessing groups as suggested above will allow someone to take that first step but with a little bit of support.
We’ve put together 12 things carers should know after a stroke in takeaway PDF for you
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Written by Rachel Dines, Adult Speech and Language Therapist