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January 27, 2010 > How Will You Handle Life After Stroke?

How Will You Handle Life After Stroke?

Seminar Focuses on Overcoming Challenges After Stroke

Everyone knows that life throws a lot of challenges our way. But, for stroke survivors and their loved ones, life after stroke can be the greatest challenge of all.

So, when life throws a challenge your way, what will you do? asks Doug Van Houten, R.N., clinical coordinator of Washington Hospital's Stroke Program.

On Tuesday, February 2, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the Conrad E. Anderson Auditorium, Rooms A and B, located at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont, Van Houten and a member of the Stroke Program's medical staff will present a free seminar focusing on the Future in Diagnosis and Management of Stroke and Life After Stroke.

When he talks about life after stroke, Van Houten says he likes to remind stroke survivors about some famous people who went on to do amazing things after suffering from stroke or similar neurological conditions.

"In politics, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was disabled by polio, but he didn't quit during World War II and he went on to establish Social Security," Van Houten says. "And in entertainment, actor Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with advanced Parkinson's disease, but he continues to write and direct."

Van Houten also points to former NFL football player Tedy Bruschi, who had a mild stroke after winning three Super Bowl championships with the New England Patriots, then recovered and went on to become the comeback player of year in the 2005.
"I mention these examples as a challenge to people," he says. "You can have serious neurological challenges, but with determination and some adjustments you can go on to do great things. There are 5 million other strokes survivors living with the similar challenges."

During his talk next week, Van Houten will talk about:
* Specific challenges the stroke survivor faces
* What it takes to get better
* How stroke affects the survivor's family
* The kinds of lifestyle changes that have to be made after stroke
* The importance a positive mindset is during the recovery process

"This talk is the last in the Stroke Education Series and it focuses on what happens after you leave hospital, after acute rehabilitation - after the rehab specialist works with you for the last time," Van Houten explains. "At that moment when the door closes, there's a sense of being on your own, although there are lots of resources out there for the stroke survivor."

In moving on with life, an important tool for stroke survivors, according to Van Houten, is the Stroke Support Group at Washington Hospital, which offers a comfortable setting where stroke survivors and their caregivers can meet people facing the same types of challenges and learn from one another.

"One of our heroes in our Stroke Support Group is a young stroke survivor, he's about 45, who can barely say a word, but he can move around," Van Houten says. "Last year, this man - who lives by himself - made arrangements with the help of a family member to visit a friend in Puerto Rico. By himself, he navigated through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), airports, foreign countries and customs agents and had a friend meet him there."

A major goal of Van Houten's during the Stroke Education Series and the Stroke Support Group is to encourage survivors to improve their independence, which can greatly improve quality of life, not only for the stroke survivor but also for his or her caregiver, who is most often a spouse.

"A lot of people in the support group have problems with speech after their stroke, and they feel so uncomfortable, which tends to keep them from going out," he says. "If we can make people feel more independent, it saves the caregiver a little bit and the stroke survivor."


Learn More About Stroke

To learn more about the future in diagnosis and management of stroke, as well as how to overcome challenges after a stroke, join Van Houten and a physician with Washington Hospital's Stroke Program on Tuesday, February 2, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the Conrad E. Anderson Auditorium, Rooms A and B, located at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont.

To register for the upcoming Stroke Education Series lecture, visit www.whhs.com and click "Register Online for Upcoming Seminars" in yellow at the bottom of the page.

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