Stroke survivor Debbie Ainscow adds her voice to Lost for Words campaign

Date published: 10 November 2017

Littleborough stroke survivor Debbie Ainscow, 50, is one of the thousands of people living with communication difficulties after a stroke.

Debbie has worked tirelessly to regain her speech, with the support of her partner and fellow stroke survivor, Steve Russell.

Mother of two Debbie was a well-respected nurse for the NHS, having worked her way up to the role of Practice Education Facilitator over a 28-year career. However, Debbie had a severe stroke in January 2012, which took her speech, her ability to communicate, and her ability to walk.

After six months in hospital, Debbie returned home and was able to walk independently with a stick. However, she could not communicate apart from the word ‘yeah’. Doctors told her she would probably never speak again.

Sadly, during her rehabilitation, Debbie’s mother died suddenly and her relationship with her partner broke down. However, with support from the Stroke Association's Communication Support Service in Rochdale, her family and her friends, Debbie has worked tirelessly to regain her speech and movement. Debbie met her partner Steve, a stroke survivor himself, at a local stroke support group.

Steve said: “I met Debbie in February 2013, when she was unable to communicate. When she left hospital, she said everything looked like it was written in a foreign language. The consultant said she’d never speak again, however he nearly fell off his chair when he heard her say “hello, how are you?” a few years later.

“Against all the odds, Debbie now has a vocabulary of more than 500 words. Despite her challenges, Debbie is a tower of strength and still manages to encourage me after my stroke.”

Debbie now attends the Stroke Association’s Communication Support Group each week, alongside Steve. Here she joins other stroke survivors to rebuild her communication skills by learning different strategies and taking part in activities to help build her confidence to communicate.

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.

Joanne Mundey, Communication Support Coordinator at the Stroke Association, said: “After a stroke, around one in three people like Debbie have difficulty communicating, which can be both terrifying and isolating. But with the right help and support, many stroke survivors are able to find new ways to communicate, and can rebuild their lives. Since Debbie has been attending the Communication Support Service, she’s gone from strength to strength. I’m so proud of her 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.

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