Do you have a problem thinking, problem solving, or memory issues?

I do!  Read the article that Mary Burns wrote.

Did you know studies have shown up to 72% of patients have some form of cognitive impairment after stroke? Even as a medical speech-language pathologist (SLP), I found this statistic shocking. It’s a common misconception that an SLP only helps people regain their ability to speak. One of the most meaningful ways an SLP can help someone after stroke is by helping them improve and regain cognitive abilities.

Because of damage to the brain, a stroke survivor may experience changes in thinking, problem solving, memory, or attention. Factors such as the location and type of the stroke will impact the presence and severity of these side effects. Changes in cognition can make it hard for people to communicate, control emotions, perform daily tasks, or return to work or hobbies.

Stroke survivors are often reluctant to seek out services for cognitive rehabilitation because they struggle with embarrassment, fear, or denial. In order to help break down these barriers I want to provide a window into what cognitive therapy after stroke may look like.

Step 1: Your medical team will send a referral to an SLP. Depending on your abilities, this may be for in-home or outpatient therapy. The clinic will likely check your insurance benefits and call you with details. Remember, just because your team sent a referral to one clinic, does not mean you have to go there.

Step 2: You will schedule an evaluation appointment with an SLP. This appointment will typically be 60-90 minutes long. Sometimes it is helpful for a caregiver to be present, so please ask about this when you schedule your appointment. During this appointment your therapist will ask you questions about your medical history, hobbies, and goals. After a short interview, your SLP will administer a cognitive test. This test may feel discouraging and exhausting at first, but the purpose of the test is to identify your strengths, weaknesses, and how to improve. You may feel very tired after this appointment so you may want to schedule time to rest after.

Step 3: After your evaluation, you will work with your SLP to form a therapy plan. This means deciding how many times to attend therapy weekly, how long therapy may last, and goals to address. It’s important to be honest with your therapist about what schedule is reasonable for you and what you want to accomplish.

Step 4: Therapy sessions may last anywhere from 30-60 minutes. During these sessions you and your therapist will work on different activities to help your brain heal and you achieve your goals. Ask your therapist questions such as “why are we working on this?”, give feedback about what doesn’t work for you. Let your therapist know if you left an appointment feeling exhausted. This will help make your therapy more effective. You will likely leave each session with exercises or strategies to practice throughout the week. You and your SLP should work as a team to help you recover.

Recognizing that cognition has changed and asking for help can be scary. But the services that speech-language pathologists can offer can help support your return to a full life after stroke. Please talk to your doctor and let them help connect you with the right provider.

Visit us on Facebook or Instagram to share your goals. Let’s work together to make 2020 a great year for all of us.  Check back each month as we help break down an overwhelming process piece by piece in our newsletter.

Special requests or questions? Email me today.

Mary Burns, MS, CCC-SLP has been working as a medical Speech-Language Pathologist since 2014. She specializes in working with adults with swallowing or communication disorders, especially after a stroke.

Working across the continuum of care gave Mary a unique perspective on strengths and needs in the rehabilitation system. This developed her passion for advocacy of person-centered care and the inclusion of patient and community education as a part of the recovery process.

Mary was drawn to Stroke Awareness Oregon because of their dedication to breaking down barriers that allow stroke survivors and their loved ones to access the services they need.  She can be reached at contact@overlandslp.com

Guess What I Forgot…..

NATIONAL STROKE AWARENESS MONTH

May is World Stroke Month, not June. Sorry about that; I had it all cued up and I forgot to post it.

Many health and heart organizations come together every May to raise awareness about the causes and effects of stroke.

One of their biggest campaigns is FAST, teaching the world to know the symptoms of stroke and how to respond quickly to help save a life.

  • Face – By asking the person to smile you can tell immediately if one side of the face droops.
  • Arm – Ask the person to raise both arms. Observe to see if one arm drifts lower than the other.
  • Speech – Slurred speech is a symptom of stroke. Ask the person to repeat a single sentence.
  • Time – Call 911-Fast. Time may be the difference between life and death or even partial and full recovery.

HOW TO OBSERVE

Visit the cdc.gov and stroke.org to find out more. Use #StrokeAwarenessDay to post on social media.

HISTORY

National Stroke Awareness Day was proclaimed in 1989 by President George H. W. Bush. It had been observed for many years before the proclamation. The Centers for Disease Control, the American Heart Association, World Stroke Campaign and many other have all participated in bringing education, research, and treatment on a global basis.

There are over 1,500 national days. Don’t miss a single one. Celebrate Every Day with National Day Calendar!

I THINK It Went Well….

They laughed at all the right parts.  They even laughed at a few parts I was trying to make funny.  Then, Ryan Jewell, interviewed Jill (I just stood there smiling) on his Millennial Money Matters segment (it lasts for 3.15 minutes).  Check it out:

I THINK it went well. I will let you know more once I speak with Ryan later on this week. Keep your fingers crossed!

Take a look at BEFORE and AFTER….

After last weeks event, I am putting this into my presentation. You are looking at how my script looks to me, with the different colors.  If I have BLACK text, it is older text. There is no BLACK text since this is all new to me and will be new few months. If I have GREEN text, it is new so I have to watch it a bit more closely.  If it is RED text, it is NEW so I have to read it for now.  The BLUE text means it have to advanced the slide. Check it out:

Do you think it can be better than that?

Those videos were taken 3 years ago.  On my 10 year anniversary, I was SURE I had improved so I tried this experiment again. (PAUSE) What happened? (PAUSE)  I crushed the cup, spilled water all over myself, and showed absolutely no improvement. (PAUSE)

So here we are at 11 years post-stroke. What do you think will happen this time? 

(PAUSE for applause) (PAUSE)  Isn’t that great? It only took 11 years to be able to drink from a paper cup! (PAUSE)

You can look at me and SEE my PHYSICAL disabilities. (PAUSE) They are awkward and obvious. (PAUSE)  But my most challenging deficits (PAUSE)  are the ones you don’t see. (PAUSE)  The barriers of broken language and cognition are tough to break down. (PAUSE) My ability to think clearly and speak at will (PAUSE) remain my biggest obstacles.

These minor changes takes me months to get right.  I am telling you this because I want you to appreciate the amount of work I put into this task.

Curious…..

I was curious…as I anxiously await to hear about my talk from about 2 weeks ago. Did it go ok?  Did he want me to do more?

The “Pink Card” index was on the low side…45%.  I have been averaging 50-60%.  Maybe it was because many of the people already heard me speak.  OK, now I feel better!

Of the speeches I gave over the 5 years, THIS one was my favorite.  Why?  Because so many things went wrong and I was still able to complete it.  While I couldn’t see the image being projected without looking at the screen (still a problem), I don’t think that affected my talk too much.  At one point, I put this image up:

before I said:

I was a young, healthy, active, non-smoking, non-drinking- mostly non-drinking  – normal cholesterol man, just like this guy!

They still  laughed!

I look forward to talking to my sponsor and seeing what he thought.  I can always IMPROVE.

How Did I Do????

I was cleaning out my file and I discovered this sheet of paper:

It was the follow up I did with the audience I addressed.  I just wanted an idea of how it went and if I should be presenting this speech to anyone else.   I reserved the URL; I put in on hold incase I needed to do something after the speech.  I got so many positive reviews and so many names of people who would like to hear a similar message, that I launched my business a week later.  I told my partner, Scott, that I would be leaving his practice.  It was good timing for him, because his practice was exploding!

This is interesting: Back in 2012, I included pens with the hand-out; I didn’t know any better!   I wouldn’t do that today.  I would just hand them my questionnaire and collect them afterwards…like I do now.  I didn’t know it at the time, but most people have pens.

I am still getting 25-60% of the people filling those out.  When I said “go to my website and fill out the form, I got 2-3% of the audience to fill it out; who knew.  I thought the high tech thing would work–nope!!!!

One more speech before the year ends…

The year was closing out…but I had one more opportunity to present my speech to MY insurance company.

But let me back up to when I met JR, my rep.  I met JR about 6 years ago.

He called me on the phone…4 years later…a cool-warm call at best.  He said he wanted to meet with me to discuss our Auto Insurance.  I had this company since 2001 and I didn’t like the service I was getting, so I agreed to meet.

He showed me what he had and he made a convincing case to switch…so I did. Since switching, I had to call JR one time for my daughters car. As soon as I called him, he picked up on the third ring and answered my question!  This was the service that I had been waiting for!!!  JR, you are the man.

Anyway, I made a luke warm call to HIM, and said I was looking to speak at one of their COMPANY events and do you think you can help. (OK, I think BIG.)  A few weeks passed and I got a call from Christi and she wanted me to speak at her upcoming sales meeting.   And Christi told me she lived on the same BLOCK as me (about 12 houses down)! I gladly accepted, but now I had to practice my speech again.

I thought “how hard came that be? I gave this speech over 500 times.” Well, it was hard.  The first time thru the speech, I was terrible!!!  Luckily, I had a few weeks to practice and I THINK I did ok.

I have to ask my wife Jill….to give me the truth…no holding back.  In the past, these were tough to hear, but I think this time, I gotten better.  I will ask her one the post is done…so she can’t change it!

Another speech….

I kicked off Day 2 of the Supplemental Health , DI & LTC Conference. Afterwards, I got ANOTHER standing ovation.

I know what you are thinking.  I you are going to keep getting standing ovations, what don’t you hire a photographer to capture that.  The answer: I don’t know.  As they were standing, I thought “We should be capturing this.” But then I didn’t do anything but SMILE.   I have a picture of me smiling:

Fortunately, Stephanie Turgeon took a picture of me:

They are doing evaluations on the conference. I check with my client next week if they can share them with me. I’ll let you know…

Our Son Tom, gets commissioned…

When Tommy asked me to send a few pictures to be used in this ceremony, I immediately pulled out pictures of Tommy as a little boy—preschool, kindergarten—when he came home every day and put on his latest crimefighter outfit.  He took on many personas.  He was the red power ranger, he was buzz lightyear, he was a ninja, he was a knight, and of course superman and batman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

But the one that will always stand out in my mind is when he would come home, put on his batman costume, strap his knight sword onto his utility belt, tape down the ears on batman’s cowl, Velcro on his cape, put on his cowboy hat, and became Zorro.

Every day for months and months and months, Tommy stood in front of the television and watched Antonio Banderas fight for the people.  He studied every sword move and eventually matched the whole choreography.

Little did I know this was all a foreshadowing of what was to come.  Of course he would choose Military Police for his Army career!  (He was a chemical entering student). Those seeds were planted a long time ago.

Even though he did not use the pictures I sent, I think they would have fit nicely with this moment.

Look at you now—a different outfit but still our little boy.

Address given by Jill Viggiano