This post is based on an article titled “In Vienna, Stroke Comeback Center helps brain injury victims like Patrick Horan” written by Tom Jackman for The Washington Post. The picture in this post is not from the article.
Prior to taking anti-stroke medicine, I had five strokes. I have not been to the Stroke Comeback Center, and I did not receive any compensation for writing this post. I chose to write a post about the center because the article and video provide information about brain injury, stroke, compensation tools, recovery, aphasia, and veterans that will interest many of the people who read my posts.
Approximately seven years ago, during a mission in Iraq, Army Capt. Patrick Horan was shot in the head by a sniper. His recovery from traumatic brain injury involved traveling to Chicago, Los Angeles, Walter Reed National Military Center in Bethesda, Michigan, New York, Alabama and Charlottesville.
Now one of the highlights of his rehabilitation is a day at the Stroke Comeback Center, a spacious, well-equipped non-profit clinic whose founder and executive director, Darlene Williamson, was just elected president of the National Aphasia Association.
Williamson devised a business model for operating an aphasia clinic. Her clinic now has 90 members a week who choose from 38 different classes, including some [classes] with a physical component. There are also classes in one-handed cooking, for those who have lost functioning on one side of the body.
One of the best tech tools is an iPad program called “Constant Therapy,” which enables users to work on reading and speaking both in and outside of clinical settings. “It is the best tool out there,” Williamson said. “They have put an enormous amount of time and energy into building therapy for folks who have aphasia.” Horan participated in a promotional video for Constant Therapy.
Though wounded soldiers make up only about 10 percent of the Stroke Comeback Center’s members, Williamson said about 40 percent are former military members who have suffered strokes or brain injury. She said many insurance plans will stop paying for therapy after a “plateau” of achievement has been reached, but Williamson and others — including the Horans — believe that gains can continue for many years.
The clinic is filled with other brain injury survivors, each with different symptoms. “Different strokes for different folks,” Williamson cracked. Horan said his groups work on reading, playing cards, making conversation, cooking, and language skills. “It’s just fun,” though at the end of the day, he is exhausted.
Other than being unable to retrieve a couple of words he doesn’t use often, you wouldn’t know a bullet had pierced Horan’s skull and it took him a year just to say 50 words.
The following video is from a Public Broadcasting System (PBS) episode of “My Generation” which featured the Stroke Comeback Center.
Call to Action
Please leave your comments in the text box below this post if you can share any tips, tools, or strategies that might help survivors, their families, friends, or caregivers.
Thanks to Tom Jackman for writing the article; The Washington Post for publishing the article; retired Army Capt. Patrick Horan for sharing his story; Stroke Comeback Center for providing its services; Constant Therapy for creating a viable solution; YouTube for hosting the video I used in this post; and all the other people who, directly or indirectly, made it possible for me to use the picture, video, and text I used in this post.