10 Years?

Holy cow; it has been 10 years since I had my stroke.

Thinking back, my future looked bright:

I was finally earning good money, starting to save for college, saving for retirement, putting savings into my HSA. Things were starting to click. Then BAM…the stroke hit me.  My goals…gone. My life…changed. My future…unknown. I really didn’t think of the effect the stroke would have.

In the beginning, I lost my ability to use my right side.  My wife was able to stay home with me and work on my recovery.  My thinking was that I would be working is 6 months.  How wrong I was!

With help from my wife, we worked through a few different options.

First, I wanted to get back into my business of consulting telemarketing reps.  This was tough for me because I couldn’t talk.  We both realized this in a few months.  I still can’t believe Jill stayed with me though the terrible six months when I was feeling that I could talk; I couldn’t get out more than a sentence.  Not good for a sales consultant!

Then I decided to work with Scott Olsen. Scott was a trainer and we both had similar clients.  I would help him build his pipeline and offering the telesales training as a supplement to his training.  We got off to a great start.  Soon, I realized, that they were actually buying Jill…not me.  I still couldn’t talk!

In the meantime, Jill prepared a speech for me that I wanted to deliver to my friends who got me thought these tough years.  After 6 months of writing (for Jill) …and another 8 months of daily practice (for me), I was able to deliver my speech…1 time…to my audience.

You know how that turned out; you can look at my video clops over the past few years to look at the progress I have made:   https://mybrainllc.com/check-out-this-5-minute-video-clip/

Not being able to talk was my biggest challenge.  Even now, after feeling confident that I had a great conversation,  I cringe with how terrible I sound when I play back the recording.  How could I sound so great…in my head…and turn into sounding so bad.

It is what it is. Thank god for my disability income. I don’t know where I be without the little steam of money coming in each month.

There is ONE thing that DOES bother me:  the loss of my car and the ability to drive:

Image result for 2005 bmw 323i

That BMW was a fantastic car.

Now…I understand the problems I had!

New treatment offers hope for better stroke recovery. Spatial neglect often occurs after damage to the right side of the brain, making it difficult for stroke survivors to see things on their left.

Eating food from only the right side of the plate, shaving or applying make-up to only one side of the face, and running into objects on the left are common traits post stroke and for some survivors current therapies aren’t working.

University of Queensland researchers are leading a world-first project that might help overcome disability that can affect many everyday activities for stroke survivors.

UQ School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences researcher Associate Professor Timothy Carroll said the research would investigate a new therapy in which robots would guide the hand to retrain the stroke survivor’s brain.

“The neuropsychological condition – called spatial neglect – often occurs after damage to the right hemisphere of the brain, making it difficult for stroke survivors to pay attention to the left side of space,” Associate Professor Carroll said.

“Up to 85 per cent of right hemisphere stroke survivors have reduced ability to attend to the left side of space, which can affect many activities.

“A person might fail to eat the food on the left half of their plate, and they might only shave or apply make-up to the left side of their face.

“They may collide with objects or structures such as door frames on their left.

“At present there is no satisfactory treatment for people with spatial neglect.”

One current treatment involves reaching towards visual targets while wearing spectacles containing prisms that shift the entire field of view towards the right.

To reach accurately while wearing the prism spectacles, people with spatial neglect must learn to reach targets on their neglected side.

Dr Carroll said the treatment’s effectiveness varied dramatically for different patients; ranging from long-lasting functional improvement after a single session to no benefit at all.

“We are testing a new approach, in which we use a robot to physically push the person’s hand to one side while they are reaching, instead of using prisms to distort vision,” he said.

“We hope to show that learning to move straight when the robot pushes the hand to one side will help people with neglect to better orient attention to the left side of space.

“This will help us to better understand the links between attention and movement after stroke, and may lead to new rehabilitation approaches for stroke survivors with attention deficits in the future.”

Stroke Foundation figures show that more than 475,000 Australians were living with the effects of stroke in 2017, with this number predicted to rise to one million by 2050.

The UQ researchers are looking for stroke survivors with damage to the right hemisphere to participate in a single two-hour testing session at UQ’s St Lucia campus in Brisbane.

Volunteers must be able to sit in a stable position for an hour, have no significant vision impairments (normal spectacles are fine), and be able to effectively reach to objects with their right arm.

Those interested in participating should email Dr Carroll on timothy.carroll@uq.edu.au, or call UQ’s School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences on +61 7 3365 6240.

Media: Associate Professor Timothy Carroll, timothy.carroll@uq.edu.au, 0431 530 339, Kirsten O’Leary, UQ Communications, k.oleary@uq.edu.au, +61 7 3365 7436.

I am back from speaking in California…a TOUGH day!

Man…it was a tough day!

Because of snow on the ground, we got up at 3:30 AM;  I felt pretty good. We arrived at the airport, went thru my TSA approved line, and had a great breakfast at Capers Cafe. We boarded; no problem.

When we arrived at the airport, Uber picked us up and brought me the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.  What a fabulous place.

Eileen told me I was to go on at 11:00am and I would have 5 minutes to set up.  They had a couple of AV people so I felt confident I could do it in the time frame.  Usually, if everything works, it takes me 2 minutes.  When I hooked up my computer to the projector, I was told it was washed out.  I couldn’t see the presentation; I was just hearing from one of the AV guys.  That didn’t seem to bother them; they got different connectors, different connectors to plug into my computer and lots of other contraptions.  Nothing worked!

After 10 minutes, we told Eileen that we will have a little delay. That was a relief! One  of the AV guys said that he has a Mac.  If I could get my presentation to his machine, it would work. I closed out the presentation and started to transfer it.  Then, all of a sudden, it was fixed!

But now, I couldn’t find my presentation!  A third AV guy came in. He was a pro and a true Mac guy.    Luckily, I had a version of it on my hard drive.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember what slides I have added!   So I began my presentation with a little hesitance.  As I got though the slides, they all worked; talk about blessings!

Stretchable band aids to monitor stroke?

A stretchable wearable sensor designed to be worn on the throat can help monitor and treat stroke patients.

The sensor adds to the portfolio of stretchable electronics that are precise enough for use in advanced medical care and portable enough to be worn outside the hospital, even during extreme exercise, researchers say.

“Stretchable electronics allow us to see what is going on inside patients’ bodies at a level traditional wearables simply cannot achieve,” says John A. Rogers, engineering professor at Northwestern University. “The key is to make them as integrated as possible with the human body.”

The bandage-like throat sensor measures patients’ swallowing ability and patterns of speech and aid in the diagnosis and treatment of aphasia, a communication disorder associated with stroke.

The tools that speech-language pathologists have traditionally used to monitor patients’ speech function—such as microphones—can’t distinguish between patients’ voices and ambient noise.

“Our sensors solve that problem by measuring vibrations of the vocal cords,” Rogers says. “But they only work when worn directly on the throat, which is a very sensitive area of the skin. We developed novel materials for this sensor that bend and stretch with the body, minimizing discomfort to patients.”

Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, a research hospital in Chicago, uses the throat sensor in conjunction with electronic biosensors—also developed in Rogers’ lab—on the legs, arms, and chest to monitor stroke patients’ recovery progress.

“Talking with friends and family at home is a completely different dimension from what we do in therapy.”

The intermodal system of sensors streams data wirelessly to clinicians’ phones and computers, providing a quantitative, full-body picture of patients’ advanced physical and physiological responses in real time.

“One of the biggest problems we face with stroke patients is that their gains tend to drop off when they leave the hospital,” says Arun Jayaraman, research scientist at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and a wearable technology expert. “With the home monitoring enabled by these sensors, we can intervene at the right time, which could lead to better, faster recoveries for patients.”

Because the sensors are wireless, they eliminate barriers posed by traditional health monitoring devices in clinical settings. Patients can wear them even after they leave the hospital, allowing doctors to understand how their patients are functioning in the real world.

“Talking with friends and family at home is a completely different dimension from what we do in therapy,” says Leora Cherney, research scientist at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab and an expert in aphasia treatment.

“Having a detailed understanding of patients’ communication habits outside of the clinic helps us develop better strategies with our patients to improve their speaking skills and speed up their recovery process.”

The platform’s mobility is a “game changer” in rehabilitation outcomes measurement, Jayaraman says.

Data from the sensors will be presented in a dashboard that is easy for both clinicians and patients to understand. It will send alerts when patients are underperforming on a certain metric and allow them to set and track progress toward their goals.

The team presented their research last week at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Austin, Texas.

Source: Northwestern University

Stroke patients can improve their walking ability by doing arm exercises!

By: Mohan Garikiparithi | Health News 

Researchers worked with volunteers who had suffered strokes seven to 17 months prior to the study. They taught them moderate intensity arm cycling exercises, which they did three times a week for 30 minutes over a period of five weeks.

To assess the effect of the exercises, researchers tested the walking abilities, electrical activity, and stretch reflexes in the lower leg and wrist muscles. This was done before the training sessions began, during the study, and after the five weeks.

Walking tests included the following:

  • A six-minute walk where distance covered was measured.
  • A timed 10-meter walk to measure speed.
  • Another test called Timed Up and Go measured the time taken for a seated person to stand up, walk 10 feet, return, and sit again.

Researchers observed that arm exercises helped the volunteers improve their performance in all the walking tests. However, the most improvement (up to 28 percent) was seen in their performance in the Timed Up and Go test. According to researchers, arm cycling training helped to activate the nerve networks that connected their limbs, allowing for better coordination. When the arm nerves were activated and adapted, the spinal cord function improved, which improved the functioning of the legs.

Muscle tests revealed that there were no major changes in the grip strength of participants. However, their muscles were more relaxed after they completed the arm exercises.

The experiment proved that arm exercises could be included in stroke rehabilitation to improve post-stroke leg function.

Other exercises to improve walking after stroke

Experts recommend several stroke recovery exercises that can help to improve gait (the manner of walking). These include foot exercises, leg exercises, and balance and core work.

Foot exercises can help improve the ability of stroke survivors to walk. They’d be better able to strike the ground with their heels, follow through, and use the toes to push the foot off the ground. Sample exercises that can improve these functions include heel raises, assisted toe raises, and ankle dorsiflexion with the help of the unaffected hand. Each of these should be repeated 10 times.

Leg exercises are essential to improve leg movement. They include knee extensions and seated marching, where the patient is advised to raise the affected leg to the chest and place it back while being seated. To make them more challenging, patients can pause for a second or two when the leg is above the floor.

Core training includes toe taps and knee-to-chest exercises that are done in a lying-down position. These exercises help to strengthen and engage the core muscles while walking to improve gait.

Flamingo stands (standing on one leg for 30 seconds and repeating with the other leg) and side leg raises (about 45 degrees to each side) help to improve balance.

Leg exercises, core training, and balancing exercises require 20 repetitions (10 for each leg) to be effective.

Stroke recovery is a long process that involves stroke rehabilitation through exercises to improve walking. Toe exercises, leg exercises, core training, and balancing exercises help to strengthen the muscles and improve their movement. These are typical stroke recovery exercises as they help to improve gait. However, due to lack of coordination and damage to nerves, complete recovery in walking ability is not possible unless the nerve connections that help to coordinate the movements function better. The latest research proves that this can be achieved through moderate intensity arm cycling exercises.


I messed up; Take 2…

I blew it; I thought I was being funny.  But a large number of you wrote to me personally because you didn’t understand my video..and then my message. To all of you who wrote in: I am sorry!!!

So let me try it AGAIN…

Check out this new video shot this weekend.  Are you ready for something spectacular?

OK, I wasn’t able to drink from a paper cup. But I thought after 2 years, I would.  It occurred to me that I actually have to drink with my right hand…and that isn’t what I was doing.  From this day forward, I will be start drinking with right hand, but I will transfer to my left hand when my right gets worn out.

Do you think this one is better???  Any suggestions?

20-Something Stroke Survivor On Recovery


Nina Mitchell was 26 years old when she suffered a massive stroke that robbed her of her speech and mobility. After surgery, months in the hospital and a grueling, yearslong regimen of physical and speech therapy, Mitchell — now 41 — is a successful writer, blogger, wife and mother.

Mitchell (@mindpop) joins Here & Now‘s Robin Young to tell her story.

Interview Highlights

On having a stroke at 26 years old

“There are various kinds of stroke. There’s the older people stroke, which tends to err on people who have high blood pressure and various other things. But then there’s another kind, and that tends to skew younger. It’s called hemorrhagic stroke. People with the more common kind of stroke have a clot in their brain. People with my kind of stroke have a bleed in the brain. So it’s just blood that leaks out into the gray matter itself.”

On having a smaller stroke prior to the massive one

“I had one that was about golf ball-size, which is not tiny, but that was being monitored. And then at this friend’s wedding, I just felt very strange. So I went home and then I called my parents, which was probably a good sign that something was very odd. My parents lived in Los Angeles, and they suggested that I go to a friend’s house for the night, given my history. And all my friends were at this wedding. So the only person who was home was my ex-boyfriend. And the next morning, I was just not making sense.”

“Your mind is so important to you, and it disappeared in my case for a while. And when it came back, it wasn’t the same as it had been.”

Nina Mitchell

On symptoms she noticed prior to the stroke

“I had had problems typing, and I went to see a hand doctor, and she looked at me and said, ‘Oh, you don’t have carpal tunnel. But I’ll refer you to a neurologist, maybe you had a nerve injury.’ A few days later I went to see the neurologist, and he looked at me and said, ‘Go get an MRI immediately,’ because he noticed all kinds of things that I had just not picked up on. He noticed that it was hard for me to balance on my right leg, on my heels. Things like that where, I hadn’t noticed that. I had asked the neurologist, ‘What are we talking about,’ and he said, ‘Well, [multiple sclerosis], a brain tumor or a stroke, and stroke is the best possible option.'”

On talking with her son about how the stroke affected her

“I don’t really talk to him directly about it. But there’s plenty of things that he picks up on, just as a little kid. And I’m sure at times in the future, he’s going to notice. Right now there are little things like, you know, mom has trouble opening those really annoying pouches, like the baby pouches. Daddy does it better and faster if you’re hungry.”

On the phrase “mindpop,” also the name of her blog

“Your mind is so important to you, and it disappeared in my case for a while. And when it came back, it wasn’t the same as it had been. I just think of that as a good catchall for all the things that have changed.”

On experiencing grief over having a stroke at a young age

“Especially early on, when my lot of my friends were on the make: they were off to grad school and starting companies and writing books. That was very hard to watch that happen, because I had to stop and do rehab for years, while my other friends were, you know, discovering planets. But I think I sort of see my life as having ups and downs. I’m definitely in an up period. I have a lovely son, I have a lovely husband, I work. So it’s all very exciting.”

It is official; I did GREAT!

  National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors

I invited Gordon and Jill Viggiano to speak to our group of about 100 financial advisors and insurance agents at our monthly luncheon meeting here in Omaha, Nebraska.

What an impactful story we heard!  We saw and heard, firsthand, how disability can strike anyone, at any time.  In Gordon’s case, this was a massive stroke that nearly killed him on his 51st birthday.  If it wasn’t for his humble income replacement coverage, the Viggiano’s would have been financially ruined.

Gordon and Jill have experienced unbelievable hardship and trials since Gordon’s stroke, but their perseverance, faith and love for one another helped them conquer these great storms.  After hearing from Gordon and Jill, everyone came away inspired and truly blessed.

Our NAIFA members were both inspired and will have a renewed passion to share the need for income replacement insurance (aka disability insurance) when doing holistic financial planning for their clients.

We had the privilege of having dinner with the Viggiano’s the night prior to our luncheon. After speaking with Gordon at dinner and hearing him at the program, it became very apparent just how much painstaking hard work went into his speech. It’s truly remarkable how far he’s come.

Gordon’s wife Jill is a true hero.  Her perspective is especially helpful because many times we are the ones helping someone else through a life changing event.  Her unyielding faith in you and God is truly inspiring, and your story needs to be told to as many people as possible!

Jill wrote a book “Painful Blessings”, discussing the struggles and the victories that she and Gordon went through, it is outstanding!  Advisors can use this book as they discuss the need for disability insurance, simply by giving it to their client to read as they ponder their decision.  Each person who attended the lunch meeting received a copy of the book.

The presentation is surprising, gripping, educational, motivational and inspirational. I recommend Gordon and Jill for any group that could use a little of any of the above!

Gordon and Jill, thank you and may God bless you always!

Richard A Mangiameli, LUTCF, FSS
President Elect of NAIFA Omaha
RAM Insurance and Financial Services

What…I can’t wear jeans anymore?

No jeans? I am shocked!  Did you hear about the following story?   Denim cutoff? New study says no one over this age should wear jeans

Are you kidding me?  I am 60 years old and I just updated my clothes. If you are counting, I purchased 5 pairs of jeans + a pair I am wearing, a dirty pair in the wash and another pair that didn’t fit on my rack!

NOW, I feel OLD!  Hey, I even bought some shits (oops…I meant to say shirts) to go with my jeans. Can I wear them?

What am I supposed to do…shop in the “old man” section?  Do they even have an “old man” section?  Wait a minute..could this be the next big thing?  What if I created my own “Old Man” clothes?  Would you buy it?  (I have a few old men that are following me.  Could I be onto something?)
Regardless… I took this picture the other day. Am I styling or what?