New Support Group for Stroke Survivors and Caregivers

ANKENY, Iowa -- A stroke affects people in different ways, and the recovery can be a long journey. A new support group can help survivors and their caregivers.

Ethan Miller is doing a different type of workout than he was used to. "I was just working out on a Saturday morning, just a typical Saturday in September, and then something went wrong. I started slurring my words. I couldn't move my arm," said Miller.

He was 26 years old and having a stroke because of a brain aneurysm. He’s now recovering at On With Life Brain Injury Rehabilitation Center with various forms of therapy. "If you haven't had a stroke, it's kind of hard to relate,” said Miller.

“It's nice being around people who are kind of in the same shoes as you, and they can kind of feel where you are coming from a little bit," he added.

On With Life started a new support group called Different Strokes. It's for stroke survivors and their caregivers to talk about topics important to them.

Speech Language Pathologist Megan Ihrke said, "The topic of caregiver burden came up by the caregivers, but also by the persons served, and I think that was most surprising to me that the survivors themselves were wanting to find ways to alleviate that burden on their caregivers."

More than 15 stroke survivors came to the first session in December. They'll tackle the topic of helping caregivers this month.

"We've been using a process here called SWAPS. It's for problem solving, and so we're actually going to teach them that process and come up with ideas and solutions together," said Ihrke.

Miller's short-term goals include being able to drive again and going back to school online. "Eventually I'd like to return to work. We might have to find a different role for me because I can't really do manual labor," said Miller.

The next Different Strokes support group is Tuesday, January 8 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at On With Life in Ankeny. It's typically the first Tuesday of every month. It's free and for any stroke survivor and their caregivers.

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