One Couple’s Vision Starts Stroke Support Group

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Charlotte and Ken Mock started the Stroke Support Group to help others who have had a similar experience.

When Ken Mock suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 2005, he entered a  world of frustration. For one thing, he couldn’t speak clearly enough to be understood.

“One day, about two weeks after he had it, he was trying to tell me something, so earnestly,” said his wife, Charlotte Mock. “After about 45 minutes, I understood. He wanted to help others in the same situation.”

They approached a social worker at Memorial Hospital, where Ken was being treated. She thought they had a good idea. Most patients experiencing Ken’s problems were patients who had suffered strokes.

Thus, Memorial Hospital’s Stroke Support Group was formed.

“We were really happy it could happen that way,” Charlotte said. Both the Mocks have attended nearly every meeting for the past 10 years.

The group meets the second Tuesday of each month, except in December and January. Guest speakers are popular and frequent, and they talk about everything from nutrition (complete with cooking demonstrations) to new devices and equipment to aid people who have had either a stroke or a traumatic brain injury. They recently had a Tai Chi demonstration, which was suggested by a group member.

“Our goal has always been to educate – to really just make better lives” for the members, said Sage Littleboy, a physical therapist, who works with Colleen Roy, a recreational therapist, to run the support group. Both therapists work in Memorial’s rehabilitation department.

While the educational programs are popular, one of the primary satisfactions is having a network of people dealing with the same issues, they believe.

“Many of them have found they can do things they didn’t think they could do,” said Littleboy.

One member, an avid cyclist who had a stroke after being hit by a car while riding his bike, discovered the adult tricycle – a three-wheeled vehicle that he manages well.

“I can barely walk to the mailbox, but I can ride,” he said.

He could not balance on a regular bike after his stroke, but he’s ridden up Pikes Peak and Lookout Mountain in Golden since he got his three-wheeled wonder.

“It’s one thing to tell them about equipment like that, but we bring it in and show it to them, and then they get excited,” Roy said. The night they brought in the trikes, “People were riding them like crazy up and down the halls!”

Unlike some other support groups, members don’t get up and tell their stories or share their feelings – that happens naturally during the socialization times in private conversations.

“We’re not like AA, and you don’t have to ‘share’ if you don’t want to,” Roy added. “We don’t focus on the past – what happened – but we look to the future and what we can still do.”

The closest they come to that meeting model is in November, when members, if they wish, may share their accomplishments from the previous year.

Meetings ares free and anyone who has had a stroke or brain injury, whether or not they were a patient at Memorial, can attend. Ages range from 30s to 70s, but any adult is welcome, they said. All levels of ability are represented, so those who are seriously impaired need not shy away. Caregivers also are welcome.

About 20-30 people attend each month, and there are about 75 members in all. Meetings are held in the Pyramid Room. A receptionist can direct new members to the site.

The program is supported financially by Memorial Hospital and donations from various sources.

As for its founders, Ken and Charlotte Mock are “always here, encouraging others and setting an example,” Roy said.

The Mocks now belong to a tricycle-riding group and a walking group — and Ken speaks clearly again. They even went zip lining last year for their 50th wedding anniversary.

But they won’t forget what it was like right after Ken’s stroke, and they still enjoy going to the meetings.

“We get a lot of information we might not find out about otherwise,” Ken said.

And, Charlotte added, “It’s really nice just being with other people who really understand what you’re going through. We’re like family.”

Stroke statistics

According to the American Stroke Association:

  • About 795,000 Americans each year suffer a new or recurrent stroke. That means, on average, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds.
  • In 2010, worldwide prevalence of stroke was 33 million, with 16.9 million people having a first stroke.
  • Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability.

For more information about the Stroke Support Group or the monthly meetings, call 365-9827 or 365-9841.

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