University of Massachusetts Amherst: UMass Amherst Stroke Support Group Hosts Community Event To Raise Stroke And Aphasia Awareness

The UMass Amherst Stroke Support Group will host its annual event to raise community awareness for stroke and aphasia on Wednesday, Aug. 24, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Northampton Center for the Arts.

This year, the group welcomes the Stroke Across America “Journey for Recovery” team, a group of cyclists who have been pedaling their way across America, spreading awareness about stroke, aphasia and traumatic brain injury, and the long road to physical and emotional recovery and rediscovery of one’s identity.

The Northampton community event marks the penultimate stop in the team’s 4,300-mile journey that began on May 19 in Astoria, Ore., and will end in Boston on Aug. 27. The ride is led by Stroke Onward co-founders Debra Meyerson and Steve Zuckerman, stroke survivor and carepartner respectively, who have been sharing their personal stroke and brain injury stories and their experience living with aphasia, a loss-of-language condition that can result from stroke.

“The UMass Amherst Stroke Support Group and our allies are excited to welcome Debra and Steve as they nearly complete this challenging journey from coast to coast, spreading awareness of stroke and aphasia,” says Jacquie Kurland, associate professor of communication disorders and event organizer. “The ride is in some ways a metaphor for their post-stroke life’s journey: publishing “Identity Theft,” the seminal work on aphasia recovery; founding and growing the nonprofit, StrokeOnward; and helping so many others to navigate their own emotional journeys to rebuilding identities and rewarding lives post-stroke. We hope that attendees will be inspired by their journey and come away with a better understanding of aphasia.”

A poorly understood condition, aphasia is an impairment of language affecting the production and/or comprehension of spoken and written language, usually as a result of a left hemisphere stroke. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stroke affects nearly 800,000 Americans each year, resulting in 137,000 deaths and leaving the majority of survivors with serious and chronic disability. Roughly 2.5 million people in the U.S. are living with chronic, persistent post-stroke language impairments and the resulting psychosocial consequences that can significantly restrict their ability to participate in routine activities associated with a meaningful life.

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