VMH announces new monthly Stroke Support Group

Veterans Memorial Hospital Speech-Language Pathologist Steven Mazzafield is now offering a Stroke Support Group for individuals who have experienced a stroke, as well as caregivers and family members affected by stroke.

The stroke support group will be held downstairs in the ICN conference room at Veterans Memorial Hospital the first Thursday of each month at 2 p.m., beginning April 6.

The purpose of the stroke support group is to provide opportunities to share tips, tricks, or trials among participants, offer support for caregivers, and provide an opportunity for socialization.

While strokes can happen at any age, risk of stroke is greatest as we get older with the majority of strokes occurring after the age of 70. Risk factors for stroke include obesity, sedentary lifestyle, binge drinking, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

It is important to know the signs of a stroke. “BE FAST” is a handy acronym to help you remember the following:

Balance - do they have difficulty with balance?
Eyes - sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes.
Face - look for any facial drooping or unevenness.
Arm - can the person raise both arms for 10 seconds?
Speech - is their speech slurred or not making sense?
Time - time is of the essence if you suspect someone is having a stroke. That’s because there is a narrow window of time when a special clot-busting medication called TPA may be given to break up the blockage causing the stroke.

Approximately 87% of strokes are caused by a blockage or ischemia; however, some strokes may be caused by a brain bleed or aneurysm. Depending on location and size, strokes can have different effects on the brain and body and no one person will have exactly the same experience.

Strokes typically affect only one side of the body and can result in weakness or paralysis of arms and/or legs. In some cases, a stroke can be very mild or even transient, meaning the symptoms go away within 24 hours. Some people have difficulty saying the sounds in words after a stroke; this can be due to either weakness (i.e., dysarthria) or incoordination (i.e., apraxia). Others may experience dysphagia or difficulty swallowing. Aphasia is a change in language that occurs after a stroke and affects both understanding and expression. It can make it difficult to speak, write, listen, and read.

Anyone who is currently experiencing hardship due to a new or ongoing stroke themselves, or knows of anyone who may be, and feel speech therapy would be beneficial, contact Steven Mazzafield, Speech Language Pathologist at Veterans Memorial Hospital at 563-568-3411 to set up an initial visit.