The Stroke Network, Inc. )

The Invisible Stroke Survivor

By Lin Wisman




For some time now I have been troubled by not seeing stroke survivors. There are estimated to be 2 to 4 million survivors (depending on whose doing the counting) in the US alone. Where are all these people? They are not in sight.


When I go about my daily tasks I very rarely see anyone who displays any stroke residuals. I know there are many people who have had strokes who donít show any outward signs. But, there are many who do. Where in the world are they?


I regularly visit the grocery store, post office, other stores, and medical offices. It is rare to see any type of disability. Where are they hiding? Most of the people who occupy all the handicapped parking places must be those who are not visibly disabled. I rarely see the visibly disabled.


Four thousand people have registered with The Stroke Network. And that includes survivors, caregivers, family and other interested people. Why arenít more people using the site for support and information? I know there are more than have used the site, but not registered. But, even if that brought the number to 20,000 what has happened to everyone else? Not everyone uses the internet for information. Some do not have internet access. Some have never taken up the habit of using the internet. Still, why arenít more people in evidence?


The world is not very welcoming to those who are disabled. It is difficult to participate in many activities if one is not able bodied. But that does not fully explain why there are so few stroke survivors in public. One problem is that this promotes the belief that those with disabilities -- stroke survivors as well as others -- are few. It also promotes the belief that stroke survivors are all older (30% are under 65). It promotes the belief that there is no life after stroke.


I for one would like to change perceptions. More stroke survivors need to be out and about. More stroke survivors need to be examples to all they meet. One reason is that if the disabled were more visible others might see their future or the future of someone to whom they are close. One would like to think it would give some people pause to think about their and their loved ones health.


I now begin each week asking my self how to make stroke survivors more visible. I also think about how I personally can be part of stroke education. One way I do that is by talking with strangers. I have a series of stroke education comments. I suppose some people think I am crazy. But, I like to think I am doing a bit to help.


Copyright © November 2005

The Stroke Network, Inc.

P.O. Box 492 Abingdon, Maryland 21009

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