A circle of life

. December 1, 2014.

In the span of a few minutes, a stroke can change a person’s life—and the lives of their families—forever. In a small health care facility in West Toledo, there’s a new group that’s helping stroke survivors and their caregivers learn about therapy techniques, providing a forum to share their stories of pain and triumph.

Stroke Life Center is a nonprofit organization, where every Wednesday, stroke survivors and caregivers sit in a circle at The Center at Alternative Physical Therapy, 440 S. Reynolds Rd.  Since its inception in September, the group has been significant not only for the therapy it provides to attendees, but also because it’s the only non-hospital group of its kind in the city. This reduces the cost of stroke support services drastically.

Sharing journeys

When individuals suffer a stroke, they’re often hospitalized for up to 30 days, then sent to long-term physical therapy. But what’s missing, according to Stroke Life Center co-founder Sue Rindskopf, is help with the day-to-day difficulties, like using a pair of scissors, balancing a checkbook, or remembering the names of friends and family. SLC discussions focus on different ways to perform these kind of tasks, using inventive techniques and workarounds. Some in the group are more advanced in their healing—to hear them speak, you wouldn’t know that they had suffered a stroke.  But then  there are others for whom walking, picking up objects, speaking, and/or listening comprehension are still a challenge. “And that’s where we come in. [All stroke survivors] want to be what they were before, and it can’t happen fast enough. Our group is here to help each other work through the stroke recovery process,”  Rindskopf said.

Rindskopf and Cindy Roshon began the Stroke Life Center this fall.  Both women have suffered a stroke at different stages of life. “I couldn’t read or write for two years,” Roshon said, describing her journey through post-stroke therapy. “Some people go home from the hospital after 30 days, do some therapy, and then they’re left to wonder, ‘well, what next?’ And that’s why this group matters.”  

During the weekly meetings, the women guide discussions on topics from memory and reading development to mobility achievements. At a meeting in early November, one attendee told of her recent, newfound ability to walk to her son’s grave and pay respects. Her husband attends the SLC meetings with her; it motivates him to be a better caregiver. “I learn from other people [who are] going through the same situation I found myself in.” 

Moving forward

SLC is looking for their own facility, and began a crowdfunding campaign last month at Causes.com. The facility would extend therapies to SLC members, granting them access to certified therapists at a fraction of the cost of hospital care. 

The group is open to all stroke survivors and their caregivers. And it’s much more than just another support group; to the survivors and family members who join this weekly circle, it’s a means of recovery, of returning to life as they once knew it. 

Stroke Life Center meets at 440 Reynolds Rd. Contact Cindy Roshon or Sue Rindskopf at  419-531-5311, or visit strokelifecenter.org.


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