Oakwood provides support group for stroke victims

TAYLOR — Oakwood Healthcare Inc. is providing a new service to help people recovering from strokes, as well those who are caring for them.

Oakwood has started an ongoing Aphasia Support Group that meets from 4 to 6 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month at Oakwood Heritage Hospital in Taylor. The sessions are free and open to the public.

“We’re very pleased to be able to offer this resource to the community,” said LeeAnn Odom, Oakwood Heritage Hospital’s administrator, clinical services. “It’s by providing innovative programs like this that we are truly able to elevate the quality of care we provide.”

Aphasia is a disorder that results from damage to the parts of the brain that generate language. Stroke is the most common cause. Those afflicted can have difficulty speaking, listening, reading or writing — even though their overall intelligence was not affected by the neurological trauma caused by the stroke.

“Suddenly they find themselves unable to communicate and unable to understand, sometimes, what people are saying to them,” said Kathy Collop, an Oakwood speech pathologist who works with the support group. “They may have difficulty thinking of words or difficulty getting words out.”

Language therapy should begin as soon after a stroke as possible and be tailored to the needs of the individual. The key is to work diligently at it, during therapy and afterward, she said.

“They can continue to improve, if the person is active — actively talking, actively involved in their environment,” Collop said. “What we’ve found is that with continued talking and interaction with people, there continues to be improvement with aphasia. Progress doesn’t end after therapy is over. It continues as long as the person is involved with other people, talking, and achieving personal goals.”

It is important to involve caregivers in the support group as well, she said, because they will play a vital role in recovery. The process can be nearly as difficult for them as it is for the patient.

“A lot of times, these changes are very unexpected. The families don’t know what to do. They feel frustrated, they’re scared,” Collop said. “They may be wondering if it’s ever going to change, and about what they can expect.”

Each session will provide patients and caregivers with support, social interaction, and education. The meetings will also feature volunteer speakers from the Oakwood Healthcare System and be filled with language facilitation and enrichment activities. The sessions are free but seating is limited to 15 people, so pre-registration is required. For more information call 313-593-7760. The next meeting takes place Feb. 12.