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Even though more can be done for stroke patients who get the hospital quickly compared with several years ago, some patients still need to relearn how to speak, walk and use their limbs.

“Stroke can be devastating,” said Dr. Ann Stroink, a neurosurgeon. “Even though the hospitals have done their job and patients are done with rehabilitation, there is an emptiness. That’s what the support group addresses. Survivors and caregivers discuss ‘Hey, what works for you? How did you handle this?’”

The face-to-face socialization helps survivors and caregivers to realize they aren’t alone. “People feel validated,” Stroink said.

The first half of meetings are education sessions about issues such as balance, nutrition and exercise, Campbell and Smith said. For the second half, survivors meet in one room and caregivers in another room to discuss mutual concerns.

Alonna is an amazing gal but I could tell she was depressed and frustrated,” Smith recalled. “I thought the group could help her.”

“I was surprised when I first went,” Dukeman recalled. “I thought I was the only one like this. I realized I’m not the only one dealing with these deficiencies. I look forward to the meetings.”

Dukeman has returned to work, her exercises are strengthening her left side and she hopes to eventually make a full recovery. Even as she works on her left side, Dukeman - who is right-handed - has learned to type, bake, crochet and do other things using mostly her right hand.

She always used her right hand for her adding machine at work, so she hasn’t missed a step there, she said. Baking and crocheting take longer but she’s learned patience.

“I used to make 120 turtles (candies) in 20 minutes. Now, I take that much time just setting up. But I can’t dwell on that.”

The group has helped her regain her self-esteem and has given her the courage to go out more.

“I feel so good. I’ve learned to accept who I am.”

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Source: The (Bloomington) Pantagraph, http://bit.ly/L7N0VF

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Information from: The Pantagraph, http://www.pantagraph.com