We’re Growing!

We’re Growing!

I’m Flannery O’Neil, the new Executive Director of Stroke Onward. I joined the team in mid-January having most recently worked in acute stroke care quality improvement with the American Heart/Stroke Association. When I learned of Stroke Onward last fall, I was immediately drawn to the mission as it is deeply personal to me as a stroke survivor.

Did you know that up to 20% of strokes happen in people younger than 50? (source) Four years ago, at age 34, I experienced a transient ischemic attack (TIA) and an ischemic stroke while living in a rural community in Colorado. On the day of my stroke, I had all the hallmark signs of stroke: loss of speech, weakness in my arm, and facial droop. Fortunately, I was able to get to the hospital quickly and was given the IV medication for stroke, alteplase (tPA), which helped to dissolve the clot and began my path to recovery. When I was discharged from the hospital a few days later, I was still experiencing severe language and math disabilities, an inability to feel on the right side of my body, debilitating fatigue, and lack of hunger or thirst sensation. Through months of therapy, I was able to regain many of my previous abilities. However, my emotional journey was just starting.

Over the course of the last few years, I have started two support groups to help my fellow survivors and I cope with the impact of stroke on our lives. I am elated to join the Stroke Onward team and support our mission of developing more resources to help navigate the emotional journey to rebuild identities and rewarding lives.

We have a busy year ahead including:

  • Speaking engagements across the country (virtually) with Debra and Steve;
  • Collaboration with American Stroke Association on bi-monthly articles in the Stroke Connection e-newsletter and website;
  • Launching “Rebuilding Identity” bi-weekly online session as part of Virtual Connections, hosted by Aphasia Recovery Connection & Lingraphica, starting March 18th; and
  • Development of materials to deepen and personalize Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke.


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