Southeastern Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) Martha Sherrill has much experience with helping those who suffer from brain injuries.

Prior to Covid-19, Sherrill led an in-person support group for adult survivors of strokes and brain injuries at the North Oaks Medical Center in conjunction with their Rehabilitation Department. Survivors of strokes and brain injuries, as well as their caregivers, met as a group once a month to socialize, share experiences, and discuss different topics of recovery and rehabilitation. The pandemic put a quick halt to in-person meetings, which left the group with few opportunities to interact or socialize, particularly those with communication disorders such as Aphasia, an acquired loss of language due to stroke / brain injury.

As a result, a book club was created through the CSD program as a way to keep the social and community ties of the support group alive. It also gives participants a chance to work on communication strategies and skills in a supportive and friendly environment. The group meets every Tuesday at 12 p.m. through Zoom to socialize, share experiences, and discuss a chapter or two of the latest book and is free and open to any community members with stroke or brain injuries and / or caregivers.

“One of the things that makes this group special is that participants include former Southeastern faculty members who have suffered strokes / brain injuries and now have permanent language loss. There are also relatives of current Southeastern employees and others from our community and beyond,” said Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders Lillian Stiegler. “Most of the members are past the traditional ‘rehab’ period that occurs soon after a stroke / brain injury but can still benefit greatly from ongoing language stimulation and conversation practice. If Dr. Sherrill were not doing this project, most of them would be receiving minimal opportunities for social communication enhancement and enrichment. It is an extraordinary labor of love.”

The book club welcomes 12-16 group members per week, and thanks to Zoom remote technology, they have group members well beyond Hammond. Patients from Touro’s rehabilitation unit have been able to join them, as well as group members in Texas, Illinois, and Florida. The club will remain “virtual” for the foreseeable future and welcomes new group members at any time.

The CSD program is supporting the purchase of books for participants, and CSD student clinicians are given the opportunity to participate and learn from the group as well.

For more information, contact Sherrill at martha.sherrill@southeastern.edu or at 985.549.3436.

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