Cheadle stroke survivor Ron Henshall, 66, is one of the hundreds of people living with communication difficulties after a stroke.
Ron, a father of three, has been a musician from the age of eight, performing alongside well-known bands such as Black Sabbath during his career. Before his stroke, Ron was frequently gigging across Manchester, while teaching full time at schools across Stockport.
In January 2015, Ron had a major stroke which left him with no words at all, and he had to completely re-learn how to communicate. With a Masters in Buddhist Studies, Ron used to meditate when he couldn’t find any words.
Ron said: “Because I had no words in my mind, I felt calm and peaceful meditating. It was only when my words started to return and I couldn’t say what I wanted to say that I started to feel frustrated.”
Ron was supported by the Stroke Association at their Communication Support Groups, and began going along to the Stroke Association’s North West Community Choir. Now Ron can hold conversations but it takes a lot of his energy, and he still struggles to find certain words.
Ron’s wife Lynda said: “I think Ron’s teaching background played a big part in his determination to recover. Doctors told him he would speak, which gave him confidence, but it’s his determination that got him to where he is today.”
Ron still attends the choir on a Monday evening. He said: “It’s been brilliant for my speech. Talking to the other members each week has helped me so much. I’m now singing in the choir as well as playing my guitar. Having a role helps me to focus and mine is to help the singers stay in tune!”
The Stroke Association’s Lost for Words campaign aims to raise awareness of the challenges stroke survivors with communication difficulties can face, and help and support available.
Joyce Booth, Life After Stroke Coordinator at the Stroke Association in Stockport, said: “After a stroke, around one in three people like Ron have difficulty communicating, which can be both terrifying and isolating. When we first started supporting Ron he was unable to have a conversation or complete everyday tasks. But he’s gone from strength to strength and we’re so proud of his recovery.”
More than 350,000 people in the UK have aphasia, a communication disability which can be caused by stroke. The Stroke Association is urging people to show their support for stroke survivors who are lost for words and make a donation. For more information, visit www.stroke.org.uk/lostforwords.
A stroke is a brain attack which happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain. There are around 152,000 strokes in the UK every year and it is one of the largest causes of disability. There are over 1.2 million people in the UK living with the effects of stroke.
Stroke Association is a charity. We believe in life after stroke and together we can conquer stroke. We work directly with stroke survivors and their families and carers, with health and social care professionals and with scientists and researchers. We campaign to improve stroke care and support people to make the best recovery they can. We fund research to develop new treatments and ways of preventing stroke. The Stroke Helpline (0303 303 3100) provides information and support on stroke. More information can be found at www.stroke.org.uk