SARASOTA, FL (WWSB) - No matter how beautiful a place is, it's still the people that make it a great place to call home. That's certainly true for members of the Aphasia Support Group.
Co-Facilitator Erika Boyle says, "Aphasia is actually a language disorder that is commonly caused by a stroke, but can also be caused by a brain injury. "
The support group is made up of people who've had strokes and brain injuries and their care givers.
Erika Boyle and her husband started dating in 2000. Not long after, he had a stroke.
Erika says, "It was a massive stroke at age 39. It was from a dissected corroded artery.Which means a piece of the artery broke away , flopped over and blocked the artery, so no blood was getting to the brain. "
He almost died, and was left in a wheelchair and lost all his speech.
Two years later they got married, then found an aphasia support group just starting up at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. There, they met Diane and Bob.
Bob had also had a stroke.
Diane Lomard says,"Bob was 51 years old. We were on way to our daughter's graduation. He woke up in the morning and fell onto the floor and it was a stroke. "
He had lost his speech and was paralyzed. He could no longer work, so they retired to Florida, as they'd always dreamed of doing, just a little bit earlier.
When the Aphasia Group at Sarasota Memorial Hospital ended, Diane and Erika felt it left a terrible void, so they started the Suncoast Aphasia Support Group on their own.
At their meetings they have speakers and discussions. They break into two groups for the discussions. The co-survivors in one group and those with Aphasia in the other. Diane says in the group with the Aphasia survivors, they all talk and express their opinion. They don't worry about being judged by their fellow group members, here they feel accepted and free to speak up, no matter how difficult it is.
"It means a close group he can be with, where he belongs, whenhe can talk to other people with aphasia and he doesn't have to worry about not speaking right. or somebody looking at him funny. Any time he's with all of them, he is really, really happy," said Lomard.
Tom is also improving.
Erika says, "He eventually got out of the wheel chair. He wears a brace to walk, and his speech has really come a long way."
For them, the Suncoast Aphasia group is what makes this a great place to call home.
The Suncoast Aphasia Group always welcomes new members with open arms. They meet the first Monday of every month at Doctor's Hospital. For more information, go to the Suncoast Aphasia Support Group website.