Cindy Roshon and Sue Rindskopf are champions for stroke survivors, educating and advocating while sharing the stories of their own stroke recovery journeys. In fact, that’s how they met.
“We were speaking to an occupational therapy class at the University of Toledo,” Rindskopf said. “I think it was in 2010.”
By then, Roshon had been recovering from her stroke for 12 years, Rindskopf for three. They struck up a friendship that turned into weekly coffee dates.
“That was a treat,” Rindskopf said. “It was a simple thing, but it was a treat to get out and have a cup of coffee with a friend.”
A simple thing, perhaps, but those friendly meetings have had a lasting impact. Over time, the women noticed improvements in each other’s impairments, something they didn’t even know was possible.
“You are told, somewhere in your recovery journey, that what you’re going to get back will happen in the first year and that will be it,” Rindskopf said. “So we thought, do people know about this (continuing improvements, even beyond the first year)?”
Stroke Life Center created
Located inside Alternative Physical Therapy, 2526 N. Reynolds Rd. in Toledo, the Stroke Life Center is a non-profit organization that helps stroke survivors continue to strengthen and regain skills. The Center offers services including a weekly support group for survivors and caregivers, a therapist-led exercise class and social events for those recovering from a stroke. A monthly outing to the Toledo Museum of Art is a favorite, with tours given by a docent who is herself a stroke survivor.
Once insurance-paid therapy ends, Roshon explains, many survivors are told they’ve plateaued in their progress, or simply believe they’ve recovered all the abilities they can. “That’s where we come in,” she said. “We pick up and carry on from there.”
Roshon was 38, with three small children, when she had a stroke 21 years ago. It left her with a condition called aphasia, an impairment in language processing. Although it still affects her, Roshon has continued to progress. Immediately after the stroke, she was unable to speak while now, she is able to provide this clear and insightful interview to M Living.
“I was guttural when I first had [the stroke]” she said, explaining that she knew what she wanted to say, but couldn’t get the words out. One day her therapist came in and asked her to sing Mary Had a Little Lamb.
“I sang it, all the way through,” Roshon said. “Speech is on the left side of your brain, singing is on the right. So that’s when I knew I could talk, I just had to practice it.”
Spreading the news
After establishing the Stroke Life Center, Roshon was able to share that story with a young woman at the Rehabilitation Hospital of Northwest Ohio. “She had aphasia and she was crying and crying,” Roshon said. “I told her that story on a Friday, and when I stuck my head in on Monday I said ‘Hi’ and she said, ‘Hi!’ Rewards like that keep us going.”
Rindskopf and Roshon are committed to what they’ve experienced, and what they see at the Stroke Life Center: that ongoing improvement is possible after a stroke. “We just want people to know that there is always hope for better,” Rindskopf said. “That’s it in a nutshell. Don’t give up.”
The Stroke Life Center is funded entirely by donations, Rindskopf and Roshon are volunteers. For more information on the Stroke Life Center, visit strokelifecenter.org.