Stroke support groups help survivors

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Members of the Mid-Shore Stroke Support Group are, from left, back row, Donna Richardson, Ruth Arnouts, Ron Schmier, William Wallace and Kevin Walsh. From left, middle row, are Elizabeth Ferguson and Drake Ferguson. From left, front row, are Tom Richardson, Nicole Leonard, Waller Hairston, Dr. M. Walid Kamsheh and Carrie Nicholson.

EASTON — University of Maryland Shore Regional Health’s Mid-Shore Stroke Support Group met Dec. 5, to enjoy a holiday luncheon, talk about why they are thankful and exchange gifts. Dr. M. Walid Kamsheh, director, Primary Stroke Center at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton, also stopped by to spend time with the group.

The Mid-Shore group, which was founded more than 10 years ago, meets the first Thursday of each month, from noon to 2 p.m. in the conference room at UM Shore Medical Pavilion at Easton, 500 Cadmus Lane. The Queenstown Stroke Support group meets the fourth Tuesday of each month, from noon to 2 p.m. in suite 320 at UM Shore Medical Pavilion at Queenstown, 125 Shoreway Drive.

Both groups are led by Nicole Leonard, and stroke survivors and/or caregivers and family members are welcome.

The value of social support in stroke recovery has been validated in recent studies, according the American Stroke Association.

“After someone has experienced a stroke, there are many things that they may go through or questions they may have,” Ms. Leonard says. “The stroke support group is a place where people can connect with other survivors or caregivers to share their experiences and advice. It is very inspirational to see how dedicated this group is to helping and supporting one another. They are each other’s biggest advocates.”

Feelings of depression and isolation are eased by participating in a support group and, equally important, the support groups often challenge participants to get beyond their doctor-imposed, therapist-imposed, family-imposed and self-imposed limitations.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States and recovery time for survivors is two years. A disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain, each year, approximately 795,000 people suffer a stroke and, each year, stroke takes the lives of more than 130,000 Americans.

Residents of the five-county region served by UM Shore Regional Health who suffer a stroke have access to the designated Primary Stroke Center at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton. A Primary Stroke Center designation is given by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) when standards are met to support better outcomes for stroke care. Certification standards include having a dedicated program, staffed 24/7 by specially trained medical professionals who provide fast diagnostic services and optimal stroke care.

For more information about stroke support groups, call 410-822-1000, ext. 5068, or visit the UM Shore Regional Health online calendar at www.umms.org/shore/community/events. Additional information about the Primary Stroke Center at UM Shore Medical Center at Easton can be found at UMShoreRegional.org/stroke.