In the United States, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. Despite its rank as the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., life after a stroke is manageable with the right tools, resources and support.
Many stroke patients have been unable to access the communities that help them navigate the complexities of stroke care, including emotional guidance, rehabilitation suggestions and general life advice as the COVID-19 pandemic ensures.
Physicians are aware of just how important support systems are for those who have suffered a stroke or those caring for someone who has. That is why a group recently launched their virtual stroke support group to better assist stroke survivors and caregivers in the Northeast Philadelphia area. To help us learn more about the program, we spoke with James Glessner, the stroke program manager at Jefferson Health – Northeast.
Reestablishing the Stroke Support Group
While the in-person Jefferson Health stroke support group has existed for years, physicians recognized the increasing need to unite the stroke community in this virtual era. Now, patients and caregivers are able to reconnect with the relaunch of this support program.
“This group has always been well-attended and has helped meet the needs of the community. But with the onset of COVID-19, patients and families have been missing that backing and support,” says Glessner. “But by going virtual, stroke survivors and their families can once again access these empowering and rewarding meetings, just in a new manner.”
Led by neuroscience outreach coordinator Jaime Stazi, the meetings are held monthly and feature a different speaker each time. The speaker talks about their designated topic for the first 30 minutes of every meeting and the remaining time is reserved for attendees to have a free-form conversation.
The COVID-19 Response
The virtual framework has proven to be a great success.
“The Zoom platform has opened our eyes and created a new avenue for us to reach more people than ever before,” says Glessner. “Through the online program, participants can join from the comfort of their own home—no longer having to worry about how to get to a meeting. Similarly, if a patient doesn’t want to partake in the group but a family member is in need of support, they can log on and still be home to care for their loved one.”
In addition to the facilitator and guest speaker, each meeting is accompanied by a physician who is able to answer patients’ most personal questions and help refer them to the right specialists for more detailed guidance.
How to Get Involved
If you are a stroke survivor, caregiver or family member, this group is for you. Held on the second Tuesday of every month from 2-3 p.m. Click here for more information on how to register.
“There are no fees associated with this service. We know there are community members and family members that have been negatively impacted by strokes, and we want them to know that we are here for them, even if it’s through a computer screen,” says Glessner.
Life after stroke can be challenging, but the “new normal” should not stop you from getting the care or support you need and deserve.