Our family is no stranger to stroke...
My grandfather, Vernon Dean, had a stroke at 48 when my mother was 13! Afterwards, he could barely say more than a few words after YEARS of speech therapy.
Medical staff made it clear that he would never make a full recovery!
Barbara is 24 years-old and works at the school library. My older sister Jennifer is 4 years old. Michael, my dad was writing a world history high-school curriculum.
After spending sometime trying to find a way to communicate with Vernon, she discovered that he could draw with his left hand. After they practiced drawing and writing with his left hand, he said his first, spontaneous word!
Using Barbara's techniques and a bit of time, my grandfather eventually could say over 700 words. He could even take himself on the bus get something from the store in town!
In 1988 (the year I was born), Barbara designed and published the first natural-voice software for speech therapy.
In 1991, she was honored to receive an Achievement Award from John Hopkin's University for improving the quality of life for the disabled through technology.
During the 8 years that company ran, over 50,000 people were helped by Barbara's computer program.
In 1999, she started StrokeFamily.org, providing speech recovery coaching, and a kit for families. This kit was complete with:
- caregiver guide
- exercises and practices containing 1500 words
- tracing sheets (images with words simple enough to trace with a weak hand)
- card games
- a online computer program.
My parents continued to provide hope to those who had not had recovered their speech...
Then in 2008...after all the years my mother had spent helping people recover their speech...my dad had a traumatic cardiac event resulting in a massive TBI.
MEANING, my dad basically had a stroke worse than my grandfather.
Again, we were told that he would never recover... if ever!
But my mother knew she could get my dad to speak again. She practiced everything she had learned in her 40 years of speech recovery coaching with Michael EVERYDAY.
My father's recovery was incredible. At two years he was released from NorthEast Center, a rehab for brain injury.
He lived in his own apartment with his own 24-hour caregivers. He began calling my extension at work,
"Melissa! It's dad! Call me back. Ok, buh-bye! Love you!"
We laughed, we cried, and we were still a family.
Then after six fantastic years with my dad, he passed away in Oct 2014.
We are heartbroken. We miss him. We have been struck twice by stroke.
We carry on...
2017: Barbara and Melissa are releasing an online course dedicated to helping people talk again. This course is for families, caregivers and speech therapists.
This course will teach you how to recover language with severe brain damage from start to finish.