Role Models and Support Groups Help After a Stroke


Stroke recovery can be challenging physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Many of the effects of a stroke can and do improve over time as the brain heals. Physician therapy and rehabilitation serve to maximize and restore physical and mental function after a stroke.

But being able to visualize that you can have a happy and productive life after a stroke can be nearly impossible for some stroke survivors. You may have trouble imagining that you can have a good quality of life after a stroke, even as your physical abilities improve.

Role Models

The importance of role models in life should not be underestimated. Stroke survivors have a great deal to gain from role models.

We all know people who are so helplessly dependent on role models that they don't seem to have any ability to function without first watching an admired idol lead the way. Some people, on the other hand, are so independent and confident that they are used to being the first to do everything—always a leader and never a follower.

Most of us are somewhere in between—often gaining some inspiration and guidance from observing the achievements of others, but also able to forge new paths.

Role Models and Your Stroke Recovery

Unlike many life changes that inspire people to look to role models, a stroke comes as an unwanted and unscheduled surprise. You can't wait to have your stroke until after your role models have experienced one. Therefore, you need to seek out role models to be able to really see what a good recovery looks like. Role models in stroke recovery give you a chance to see firsthand what your possibilities can be after a stroke. Stroke survivors who serve as your role models can help you appreciate your real life potential as a stroke survivor—beyond just listening to encouraging words.  

Where Can You Find Role Models?

Sometimes, you can find role models of a healthy and hopeful stroke survivor in your social group, at work, in your family, or in your neighborhood or community.

If you do not naturally stumble on a role model who has had an admirable stroke recovery, you can find one in a stroke support group, which usually includes survivors of varying degrees of recovery. A recent study examined the benefits of hospital-based peer support groups. The study authors measured stroke survivors' objective physical improvement and also did interviews to determine survivors' opinions of whether the peer support groups were beneficial. The authors reported that the physical improvements and the sense of subjective benefits were favorable for those who attended the hospital-based peer support groups.

Places Where You Can Find Support Groups

If the hospital where you received your stroke care does not have a stroke survivors support group, you can look for a support group and role models at another hospital, a senior center, a place of worship, a university department website or local or national stroke or neurological association websites.

Take Charge of Finding Your Role Model

If you can't find a stroke support group, it isn't hard to create one. Simply approach your local community center or hospital and ask for help. Most of the time, you will find assistance with getting space, help with flyers and possibly even a health care professional such as a doctor, nurse, rehabilitation therapist or social worker to anchor and guide your group. But your peers will be the backbone for your group- sharing personal experiences and serving as role models of living a full and happy life even after a stroke.

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Article Sources

  • Participants' experiences of hospital-based peer support groups for stroke patients and carers, Morris R, Morris P, Disability and Rehabilitation. 2012.