Stroke Support Group

Beth organizes and hosts regular online meetings for survivors of stroke and other brain injuries. The format includes open dialog, readings focused on strength and recovery, and conversations with expert speakers and authors.

Upcoming Meetings:

April 11, 2024: Thomas G. Broussard, Jr. Aphasia Recovery

Thomas G. Broussard, Jr., his company, Stroke Educator, Inc., and Aphasia Nation, Inc., a
501c3 non-profit are conducting an international “Aphasia Awareness” campaign dedicated to educating people about stroke and aphasia. Dr. Broussard was associate dean, Admissions & Career Services at The Heller School at Brandeis University until his stroke in 2011. He could not read, write or speak well, but kept a 500-page diary. He “wrote” his diary using graphs, charts, and metaphorical drawings with text that didn’t make any sense. He regained his language and wrote the first three of the Stroke Diaryseries. He will discuss aphasia, recovery, and how our brains learn from experience-dependent neural plasticity.

This meeting will be held on Thursday, April 11th at Noon, Eastern Time. To receive the zoom link, please contact Beth.

Past meeting topics and speakers have included:
March 7, 2024: Delanie Stephenson Parenting After Stroke

Delanie Stephenson was a former history teacher from Dinwiddie, VA. She was
married, had 2 small children, and she thought nothing could go wrong. In 2012, at the
age of 33, she suffered an ischemic brain stem stroke. This left her “locked in”-she
could only move her eyes and couldn’t talk. Through a lot of therapy and hard work, she
gained back much of what she lost but life would never be the same. But she quickly
learned life was still worth living.

February 1, 2024: Michael Shutt Every Stroke Is Different

After surviving three ischemic strokes in 2015, professional actor and playwright Michael Shutt did what he knew best…he told the story.

Using writing as a form of occupational, physical, and cognitive therapy Michael wrote about his stroke and then turned his writing into a Solo Show called A Lesson In Swimming (Every Stroke Is Different) .

When theaters shut down during the Pandemic, Michael adapted his show into an immersive audio production/radio play available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

He has used A Lesson In Swimming to raise stroke awareness and build community. Passionate about connecting with other survivors, Michael has been a featured guest on a variety of podcasts geared towards the stroke community.
January 4, 2024: Abigail Atkinson Adaptive Yoga and Stroke

Abigail is a Utah-based yoga teacher and educator. She became dedicated to sharing yoga with others after it helped her recover from a devastating stroke in 2012. Her mission is to spread adaptive, inclusive yoga throughout Utah and beyond. Abigail teaches at studios in Utah County, specializing in adaptive, yin, restorative and gentle yoga. She lives in Orem, Utah with her family and loves hiking, reading, and herbalism. Stay connected with her on Instagram at @adaptiveyogautah, @wellwithabigail or check out her website at

November 2, 2023: Dr. Paul M. Conti Trauma and Stroke

Dr. Paul M. Conti is a graduate of Stanford University School of Medicine. He
completed his training at Stanford and at Harvard, where he served as Chief
Resident. He then worked in private practice while serving on the medical faculty
at Harvard. Dr. Conti was named as one of Oregon’s Top Psychiatrists in 2008,
his first full year of practice in Oregon. He is a general psychiatrist, treating all
aspects of both mental illness and the impact of life stressors. 

Dr. Conti is adept at helping people untangle complex problems, and he incorporates a holistic view of each client or patient into his work, knowing the far-reaching impacts trauma can have upon the systems and communities in which an individual resides, works, and serves. In addition to clinical treatment, Dr. Conti is the author of Trauma: The Invisible Epidemic, a book that brings his valuable insights about how we can collectively heal from trauma’s effects to a larger audience.
October 10, 2023: Keith Taylor Stroke Survivors Supporting Stroke Survivors

Keith Taylor is a deeply passionate, and dedicated leader in the stroke community. He is dedicated to helping stroke survivors regain their own power and strength to live a full and productive life. After looking for, and not finding, anyone to help with the depression and lack of confidence after his stroke, he decided to create that for other stroke survivors. Learn more about Keith’s work at
September 7, 2023: Dr. Richard Tedeschi Post Traumatic Growth

Dr. Tedeschi, a Licensed Psychologist specializing in bereavement and trauma, is Professor Emeritus of Psychological Science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and core faculty for the Health Psychology Ph.D. program. He is currently Distinguished Chair of the Boulder Crest Institute for Posttraumatic Growth, part of the Boulder Crest Foundation in Bluemont VA. He has published several books on posttraumatic growth, an area of research that he developed that examines personal transformations in the aftermath of traumatic life events.

Krish Kresge, Health Through Movement

Krish is a Feldenkrais® practitioner (1998) who works with people of all ages and backgrounds, using movement as a primary tool for improving coordination, balance, self-awareness, posture and voice. Krish is also an actor, producer and director. She is passionate about using her diverse skills and background to help people thrive, find their innate dignity and radiant selves.

Krish has been teaching the Feldenkrais Method® and the Anat Baniel Neuromovement® Method across the world for over 24 years. In addition to working with performing artists, athletes and business executives alike, Krish specializes in working with individuals with stroke and other disabilities. She co-edited a book about the Feldenkrais Method, Learning Through Movement, published by Handspring Publishing (UK) in 2020.

Krish spoke about her work, answered questions and led us through several actual exercises in which all participated in whatever way best matched their abilities.


Lauren Sheehan, Recovery with Kandu Health

Lauren Sheehan, OTD, OTR/L, is Director, Clinical Services at Kandu Health. Kandu Health serves people returning home from the hospital after a stroke. They offer remote clinical support through a proprietary app and a team of Kandu Navigators. Lauren has dedicated her entire career to helping stroke survivors live to their greatest potential. She has a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Creighton University and has spent the last five years focusing on building innovative stroke technologies to enhance survivors’ rehabilitation experience. Lauren has served as an adjunct professor and lecturer of occupational therapy at a variety of institutions, and she is passionate about empowering stroke survivors to take charge of their life after stroke.


Group Viewing of Jill Bolte-Taylor’s TED Talk: My Stroke of Insight

In December, the group gathered virtually for a shared viewing of Jill Bolte-Taylor’s amazing TED talk, My Stoke of Insight.

Meredith Drake, Physical Therapy and Stroke

Meredith Drake is a physical therapist at Johns Hopkins, with specific interests in Neurology and clinical education. She has a clinical doctorate in Physical Therapy from the MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, completed a post-graduate internship at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and a Neurology Residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital/University of Delaware.

Beth was excited to welcome Meredith as a guest speaker.


Debra Battistella, Brain Injury Recovery

Debra Battistella, MS, OTR/L has worked most of her OT career in physical medicine practice. During that phase, she realized that many practitioner and client needs go unnoticed and often, unmet. Deciding to take her OT practice beyond clinic walls, Debra began creatively serving the OT community through online programs that save clinicians time and support client recovery.

She ties in her passion for the brain and neuroplasticity through “The OT’s Guide to Mirror Therapy” program and the “Noggins And Neurons: Brain Injury Recovery Simplified” podcast. Debra is also full-time faculty and Academic Fieldwork Coordinator at SUNY Erie Community College where she also provides college-based OT services that focus on student, faculty and staff emotional well-being at the group and population levels through campus-based fieldwork


Rupa Valdez, Phd, Living with a Disability in Our Society

Dr. Rupa Valdez, PhD spoke from her experience and research.

Dr. Rupa Valdez is an associate professor at the University of Virginia with joint appointments in the School of Medicine and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She is also a core faculty member of Global Studies and the Disability Studies Initiative. Dr. Valdez merges the disciplines of human factors engineering, health informatics, and cultural anthropology to understand and support the ways in which people manage health at home and in the community. She recently testified before Congress on the topic of health equity for the disability community and received the Jack A. Kraft Innovator Award from the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society (HFES) for her pioneering work in creating and developing the subdiscipline of patient ergonomics.

She is also the founder and president of Blue Trunk Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to making it easier for people with chronic health conditions, disabilities, and age-related conditions to travel. Dr. Valdez herself lives with multiple chronic health conditions and disabilities, which have and continue to influence her work and advocacy.

Jeanmarie Badar, Phd, Topic: On Providing Support

Beth’s friend and colleague, educator Jeanmarie Badar, PhD shared her experience and insight on providing support.

Jeanmarie earned her doctorate at the University of Virginia School of Education and has experience instructing and supporting adults and students, as well as experience in educational research.

Beth was excited to welcome Jeanmarie as the guest speaker at the April 7, 2022 meeting of the Stroke Support Group. The meeting was held via Zoom at 12 PM Eastern Time.


Barbara Lipska, Author, The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind

“In January 2015, Barbara Lipska – a leading expert on the neuroscience of mental illness – was diagnosed with melanoma that had spread to her brain. Within months, her frontal lobe, the seat of cognition, began shutting down. She descended into madness, exhibiting dementia- and schizophrenia-like symptoms that terrified her family and coworkers. But miraculously, just as her doctors figured out what was happening, the immunotherapy they had prescribed began to work. Just eight weeks after her nightmare began, Lipska returned to normal. With one difference: she remembered her brush with madness with exquisite clarity.”

“In The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind, Lipska describes her extraordinary ordeal and its lessons about the mind and brain.”  ©2018 Barbara K. Lipska and Elaine McArdle (P)2018 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Book

Beth was excited to welcome Barbara as the guest speaker at the February 10, 2022 meeting of the Stroke Support Group. The meeting was held via Zoom at 12 PM Eastern Time.


Ted Baxter, Author, Relentless

In April 2005, at the peak of a successful twenty-two-year career in finance, Ted Baxter experienced a massive ischemic stroke.  Today, he volunteers his experience and expertise as a stroke survivor and advocate.

In his book, Relentless, Ted describes his journey of recovery. As his website notes:  “He’s walking again. He’s talking again. He moves through life almost as easily as he did before the stroke, only now, his life is better. He’s learned that having a successful career is maybe not the most important thing. He’s learned to appreciate life more and that he wants to help people, and that’s what he does. He gives back.”

Beth was excited to welcome Ted as the guest speaker at the January 25, 2022 meeting of the Stroke Support Group. The meeting was held via Zoom at 12 PM Eastern Time.


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