Stroke Family's SUCCESS STORIES
These are only a few of many...
This is what our former doctor who had not seen Michael Schacker in over 2 years said to us when he saw him again:
"It is exciting to see the amazing linguistic skills!! Michael, you are a conversationalist again!"
--John Dubberstein, M.D.
This one is a little different. Most of my focus has been on helping people with severe aphasia and apraxia, but this story shows how the STM technique works for mild speech problems--in this case, slow speech (dysarthria). This woman was a psychologist so she started to experiment on her own before calling me...
Dear Ms Schacker,
I was online looking for help with my voice. One day last July, I woke up thinking my tongue was swollen. It felt like it was filling my whole mouth. I live alone so I may not have spoken to anyone till that night when I call my brother. He said that I sounded like I was doing drugs or drunk or something. He knows I don't drink or do drugs. I got of the phone ASAP.
My speech has been slurred since, unless I pronounce each word carefully. I saw a man on the national news last week. He was in the last stages of ALS. His speech was barely understandable. I got on the Internet and looked up ALS. I do not have any of the other symptoms, but I saw the 3 types of speech problems. I decided I had dysarthria (a condition in which you have difficulty controlling or coordinating the muscles you use when you speak, or weakness in those muscles). Dysarthria often is characterized by slurred or slow speech that can be difficult to understand. The primary cause is often a TIA stroke. I have no other symptoms of stroke.
I made an appointment to see my primary care doctor today, and I made an appointment to see a neurologist (to check my brain for stroke). The primary care doctor said that he could understand me. I was looking down and reading carefully something I had written. He checked me for common stroke symptoms. I have no others than my swollen tongue and slurred speech. He said I could see the neurologist, and he would refer me to a speech therapist. He really didn't see my problem. I had not seem him before. I have not seen the neurologist yet.
After my doctor's appointment, I came home and read your Sensory Trigger Method page that I had found this morning. I had not known that our hand is connected to our speech center. I am left handed. When I started to take masters courses years ago, I took a physiological psychology course. One of the items discussed was left handed people sometimes use the speech center on the right side of their brain as well as the the one everyone right handed uses on the left side of their brain. The instructor also talked about people with seizures having the connections between their brains disconnected to stop the seizures. After that surgery, if they covered one eye the could name an object; if they covered the other eye they could describe it, but could not name it.
All my life I have been able to describe a person, place or thing and not be able to say the name. This made me wonder if I was sometimes using the right side of my brain when I could not name the person but could describe them to someone until they knew who I was talking about.
All that is background to what I am about to tell you. After reading your Sensory Trigger Method page, I tried writing my name with my left hand while I talked out loud to myself. My tongue felt normal and my speech sounded much closer to normal! Now when I keep talking but stop writing my name, my tongue feels swollen and some words are slurred! I start and stop writing and my tongue and speech switch back and forth. I think when I am writing, I am switching to my right brain speech center and my 'well' tongue control. I think a TIA stroke happened to my left brain 'tongue operation' part of that speech center so when I stop writing with my left hand, my tongue feels swollen and some words are slurred because I am speaking from the left side speech center!
Thank you for your help,
Elaine started using the fingertip pressing STM technique--much easier than writing while talking (her experiment that she tried after just reading the web site page). It worked even better. When she called me I could hear the difference when she wasn't doing the STM and when she was! She said she couldn't believe she had struggled with this for so long, when all it took was knowing how to trigger the undamaged speech center on the other side of the brain. I hope that this story will inspire those with mild and more subtle problems to find out how to do this. There are several different ways to do the Sensory Trigger Method and certain timing and frequency of application, depending on the type of speech or language disorder you have and the situation. (See Guide for Mild Aphasia, apraxia and dysarthria.)
I met Barbara standing in line to talk to Jill Bolte Taylor after her incredible presentation and talk at the Center for Ethic Culture in NYC early this summer. We exchanged our stories and she explained how her Whole Speech Practice Kit and method worked. I decided to give this a try and buy the kit for my wife, Brenda. We had been through speech therapy as well as doing many other alternative therapies, but I was impressed with what Barbara had accomplished with her husband, Michael, who has not just aphasia, but apraxia---just like Brenda, so I decided to take the plunge. When we got our kit the thing that stuck me most was how "right" and "useable" the approach is. As a successful business man, I know a great product when I see one. I've looked at all kinds of other software programs but "Let's Talk" is the one that just makes the most sense. It's frequently spoken words and conversational core word approach is the best I've seen. Even more important is her wonderful and ingenious Sensory Trigger Method and the fact that Barbara brings her real life experience into every part of her program. The program and guides help you deal with the special difficulties of severe apraxia and aphasia and the problems that caregivers have dealing with communication and making a speech and stroke recovery plan. I also hired her to come to our home and give us special training and to work directly with Brenda. I have to say--she's just amazing. Brenda was stuck on saying "notice, notice" for everything. In a fairly short time, Brenda was starting to say words spontaneously and practicing short sentences. Although we continue with valuable speech therapy when our insurance will pay for it, Barbara and her program has produced results the speech therapists had not given us. Brenda says "notice, notice" less often now...as she says more meaningful words spontaneously and as we continue to work with her, this symptom fades---just as Barbara predicted. Maybe most important is that this approach allows us to take charge ourselves and makes future speech recovery possible.
I have tried your technique of holding her left hand and having her look me
directly in the eyes and attempt to talk and the results were amazing. I am so excited.
Anne Jones, SLP
Request NEW STM technique. It's Free!
We received the Let's Talk and Speech Pathways Guidebook and Lefty's Tracing Sheets this week. They are all great! A wealth of information that I wish I had when my husband had his stroke in March 2010. Yesterday was our first day with Lefty's Tracing Sheets and my husband loved them and exclaimed "What I've been waiting for!" Thank you for giving us something that already has made a difference.
Janet and Doug B.
My brother-in-law - who is Dutch - came to stay with us last December. In a months time, he will be returning to Holland to live by himself again, with relevant support from the social system.
It has been a somewhat long road, but he can now hold a reasonable conversation, helps with the 'chores', and works on the laptop we bought him with a vengeance! We implemented all that we could from the 'Pathway to Speech Recovery' document, spending hours on 'repetition following your 'See, TOUCH, hear and say' method and, the improvement in speech, mobility and sheer enthusiasm that there is 'life after stroke' has been dramatic.
He had a series of 'Speech Therapy', which complimented what we were attempting to do, but I am absolutely convinced that 'family support' is the key to successful rehabilitation.
Once again, my sincere thanks.
With Kind Regards,
Marianne's husband had a stroke in April of 08. She purchased the online subscription and started using the Let's Talk program in mid December 08. She says that "The Let's Talk program is the only time he does not perseverate on one word" (Perserveration is repeating only one word for everything) In fact she says it stops perseveration 100% when he is working with the program. She also says that he is moving along more with the program than he is in speech therapy. The speech therapist has become interested in the Sensory Trigger technique, however, and is going to be using it along with other materials she has. Since starting to work with the program in December she has seen excellent results so far. She recently ordered the tracing sheet set and the program on disk so the rehab center can use it when she is not there with the laptop.
My husband, Michael Schacker's, Recovery Story
On April 2nd of this year, my worst nightmare happened. My husband, Michael, suffered a major aortic dissection and massive stroke. A genetic flaw, it happened out of the blue. This kind of cardiovascular accident or CVA is 100% fatal without an extremely high risk operation. He lived through the operation, but had a massive left-hemisphere stroke as a result.
I remember it was 12 hours before I was finally allowed to see him. He was unconscious and on life support with an artifcial lung machine breathing for him. He looked positively dead. I started working with my Sensory Trigger Method right away--and surprisingly, when I explained what I was doing to the staff there at Albany Medical Center, they had no objections and let me do anything I wanted with him. When I finally left the hospital to go home, I had not slept for 48 hours.
Days later, I met with one of the several neurologists on his "team". Looking at the CAT scan my heart sank. I knew what I was looking at. The area of damage on the left side was more than 15 to 20 times the area it would have taken to completely wipe out all speech. When the neurologist said there would be no possibility of speech recovery, I had to fight hard not to believe him. I thought, "Maybe my husband is going to be one of those I can't help". But I had made the first breakthrough with my father in 1972 and with many other "hopeless cases" so I decided that it was going to be up to me to do what I know how to do--to surrender to it, believe in it and devote myself to doing everything I know...
Now Michael IS recovering his speech!
Go to: Full story to date
View these video clips of his breakthroughs:
Michael's Breakthrough 1
Michael's Breakthrough 2
Michael's Breakthrough 3
Michael's Breakthrough 4
From: Amy Moss
Sent: Friday, August 29, 2008 9:41 AM
Subject: free ebook
Good morning! I spoke with you over the phone and you gave me some tips to start my client off with until we were able to purchase the kit at University of Southern Mississippi! I was just going to let you know, I tried it and the pt did great with it! Also a supervisor of mine tried it on a stroke victim with apraxia and he went from nonverbal to 25 words in only about a months time!! We are ordering your system and we are so excited about using it!
I am doing a research proposal on your method and need information and your references and any research you have done IF you are able to provide it to me! I am so excited about doing this project on your method because I believe in it so much!! Will you please send me the book and let me know where on the internet I can find more research on your method.. We just have to be able to look into the references you used to develop this method by the end of next week!
I would be so grateful if you could send me the ebook and references! Thank you so much for your time!
Ken Meakin was extremely difficult to understand before he worked with our approach. Now, he continues to use the finger-tapping technique when speaking and prefers to "click" his fingers lightly. He recovered enough to start his own business and continues to progress!
Hi Barbar how are you doing ? I am still using the clicking of my fingers. I am doing realy well to do most of my hand written with my right hand. I have always been a left handed person when it came to using a pen or pencil to write with but now my right hand is just about as good. I have been to meetings in Hotel's, retail stores and other venues where I had to fill in forms and write things down. I would often use my right hand. I am now using the power of my mind in my life by making use of the things I wish for in my life and one of them is to be able to be a public speeker. I keep having a vision of me speeking on stage to a lot of people but I am unsure what topic I am speeking of yet. I have joined a kind of mastermind group called The Elite giving program. we have weekly conference calls with members all over the world. I have spoken on this call myself. ( clicking my fingers ) I have my own blog promoting affiliates links. I have been asked to do a poss Radio interview with a Man Called Michael Dresser who broadcast to 25 states london and online. I have told him about the pathway to recovery progam and products from you. I would like you to be a the call with me please. a kind of 3 way call so you can promote your service too with a link to your page. Hope we can speek soon I am so greatful with deep grafitude to you.
here below is my blog, and Micheal Dresser Radio show home page
P.s I will be dong story's of the products on my blog so I would like to do a link to your page.
A TIA OR MINI-STROKE CAN BE VERY DECEPTIVE! Always get to a hospital, one with a stroke center if possible, right away!
Debra called the Stroke Family number and reached me even though it was the weekend. She wanted to know if she should take her father to the ER. Her father, she explained, had just minutes before, had trouble speaking and standing for a few minutes and then was "fine". I advised her to get to the nearest Hospital with a stroke center and to call ahead to tell them you were on your way. Here is what she wrote back:
Good that you advised me to take my father into the nearest stroke facility. They
are keeping him to do surgery on 95% carotid blockage!
Your search engine ranking came up with the keyword search "what to do for a
stroke" and the first thing I was looking for was the phone contact. Having
someone to discuss it with gave me the insight to ACT and told me WHERE to
go. I could have gone up the street to the closest ER and been sent home.
However, you told me about the certified stroke centers and that made all
the difference. When we got there, everyone took over and immediately
started Dad's testing. They took this very seriously and have saved his
life! I am so glad to have found you so quickly on the internet and be able
to reach you instantly. Your availability for quick answers was a GODSEND.
My best girlfriend had the same thing happen with her dad last year and took
him to the nearest ER and was sent home. Her father did pass and she felt
helpless about it.
Your hotline is literally a lifesaver.
Ken M. had moderate aphasia. When he first called me on the phone his mentor had to translate for him so that I could understand what he was saying. He started putting the Sensory Trigger Techniques to work using his left hand. He was one of the first people to use the Sensory Trigger Finger Tapping Technique. After a couple of months his speech began to slowly improve. He continued to improve and now has been able to start a small business marketing and selling a Health Drink. When he called me again to thank me, I could understand him fairly easily, though he still had some slurring, a few missed words and some hesitation. He said he continues to use the finger tapping to maintain his ability to talk more clearly. Ken has progressed to a mild aphasia level using the Sensory Trigger Method and says he wouldn't have been able to have his business without the help he received from Stroke Family and the speech practice using the techniques!
4-14-07 Don's smile says it all!
I can’t begin to tell you how excited we are at the results we are getting with your program! … and this after only three 1-hour sessions.
On day 1, I introduced the Let’s Talk CD and worked on the fruit section. Homework was to continue working on this; however, he proceeded to go through the entire Kitchen section on his own, along with working with a few tracing papers.
Day 2, I’m impressed … he can say 4 objects before clicking on the picture and can actually say these same items from the cue cards, with no voice, no picture.
Day 3 was awesome … We went through the entire Kitchen items and he was able to say 13 items before clicking on the picture. The joy on his face was dazzling and he now sees light at the end of the tunnel. I’m astounded as I wasn’t expecting anything much to happen for six weeks or so. Needless to say, his wife is excited as well, as she was quite discouraged and frustrated when we first met.
Ann then started a Speech Recovery Journal as instructed in the guide and started to branch out with different strategies--applying the method to daily situations, while being sensitive to Don's energy level:
Yesterday was a snow day, so I assumed Don would have forgotten some of his previously known words. Well, he got 24 named without help from the program or myself. It was very exciting today when he got the infamous word “butter” for the first time when I gave him the clue, “I can’t believe it’s not ----------“. He lit up like a Christmas tree!
It’s Monday, and surely he will have forgotten everything. I was so wrong! He had 31 known items today. He did some heavy concentrating, so much so that I thought I was “smelling wires burning”. I hope he doesn’t burn out. When he got to “butter”, he looked at me and motioned to me to give him the clue again, which I did. There were four words that he got half of; he got “green” from green beans, “rooms” from mushrooms, “ham” from hamburger and “apple” from pineapple. I did not include those in the count of 31.
He got 33 right today but I’m noticing he has been memorizing the sequence of the items; he knew “blueberries” came after “raspberries” and said the word before the picture even appeared. I’m not sure if this is good or bad?
Wonders, today he got “butter” without a clue. Again, a very exciting moment!
Today, I decided to experiment and have him start with “Other Foods” instead of “Fruits” and work backwards. This should really stump him, right? Wrong! I have to admit it was a little more difficult for him and he was exhausted when we were done, but he did get 35 right, and he is starting to make sense of a few of the alphabet, such as “o” in avocado, tomato, potato. I can tell when he’s working on the spelling of words, not just speaking them, as he traces the letters with his mouse cursor. He is one great student!
He’s been having trouble with “Chicken” so yesterday I told him it sounded like Kitchen, but reversed. Today, he added the word “Chicken” to his list of accomplishments.
Today is a snow day so we did not meet, but seeing how tired he was yesterday, I asked him if he was burning out. He said, “Yes”. So today we rest, and tomorrow I will tweak the program to have more tracing and less computer work. His wife says he is Superman, and I believe it, as he is giving this his all, and then some…
4/13 ... We then worked with the Let’s Talk program and worked through Dining Room, Bathroom, Living Room and he knew a lot of those words right off without the sound. What a delight he is to work with, and he’s doing so well!
Thank you so much for the work you have put into this program.
Club Z! In-Home Tutoring
Phone call from Ireland
Rapid Progress in 3 Months
Hello Barbara: My mother, Rosie, purchased the let's talk
program/speech tree program back in September for my brother that had a
stroke this past July. He has mastered the Let's Talk Program and can say
many many words now. We are so proud of him and his accomplishments but it
is not enough for him or for us so we feel he is ready to graduate to the
speech tree program and start making sentences.
Dave's wife called last month very excited to tell me of Dave's surprising recovery. She said the program and materials in the kit worked very well and that Dave would like to talk to me! Dave got on the phone and at first I could hardly believe it. Most of his words were clear enough to easily understand--but he talked so rapidly, I had the most trouble understanding his accent! A couple of times, he got so excited about what he was saying, he had to have his wife come on the phone to fill in a blank, but overall, Dave was talking functionally and conversationally. Dave worked with a speech therapist from time to time, while using our program and materials and the Sensory Trigger Technique on a daily basis. I checked our records and discovered it had only been 6 months since they had started with our approach. This is a good example of someone getting off "the plateau", as well as how our intensive, practical approach can compliment and extend the range of speech therapy.Unresponsive to talking in sentences --
--Barbara Dean Schacker, October, 2006
Gary was left totally non-responsive (semi-coma) after a massive stroke. He would not look at his wife, Jane, when she spoke to him. Even shouting and jumping up and down got no response. After all the doctors had given their sad news that Gary's condition would probably be permanent, Jane contacted me and asked if I could help. She bought the Whole Speech Practice Kit and I told her how she could begin to work with Gary and that I could coach her and answer any questions she had over the phone.
First, I told her to put a pen in Gary's left hand and hold it for awhile every day. At the same time, I had Jane talk to him as if he could hear her and tell him "I know you will recover some day. I believe you will talk again someday if you really try. Show me you are there by holding the pen." Jane worked patiently and diligently. Then we tried to get Gary to hold the pen on his own. "Show me you can hold the pen, Gary. Hold the pen."
For weeks, Jane put the pen in his hand, hold it for a while and then let go--and the pen would drop. She put it back in his hand over and over again, encouraging him each time. "I know you can do it!" Then one day, Gary held the pen! Gary was slowly becoming conscious and aware! By getting him to hold the pen, we were accessing the right hemisphere speech area, communicating through the sense of touch. Then he looked at her. Jane knew then, that Gary was coming back, that her work with him was having a real effect.
Next, I told Jane to hold his hand and the pen together and make ovals or lines on a piece of paper. She did this over and over, pausing to see if he would make a movement. Nothing happened for weeks, but Jane knew that she was repatterning his brain and that the signals were going through the kinethetic sensory channel. From the guide, she learned how to repeat this stimulation over and over, every day that was possible.
Then one day, Gary made a mark! Jane and everyone there were beside themselves, crying and jumping for joy. Weeks later, he drew an oval on his own. Then one day, he looked at her and smiled for the first time since his stroke--a meaningful sign that the technique was working!
Finally, Gary was able to come home. Having read the guides, Jane could now set up the Kit, with the Let's Talk program, and the tracing sheets so she could work with Gary at home. Gary could even work independently once it was set up.
Six months later, Gary said his first word! Gary and Jane continued to use the Kit and now, two years later, Gary is speaking in brief sentences.
Gary speech returned even before he was able to stand on his own. He is still getting physical therapy and this recent picture shows Gary standing for the first time after his stroke. There is no doubt that Gary, with Jane's loving care, will continue to recover. Gary's story proves that activating the passive language center on the other side of the brain works! We are all so proud of both of them and look forward to Gary's continued recovery!
--Barbara Dean Schacker, January, 2005
Sent: Sunday, January 26, 2003 4:52 PM
Subject: a new breakthrough
I do believe that we have witnessed a breakthrough for my Mom this week.
We were working on tracing and I asked her (just for the heck of it)
she could write her name. She picked up her pencil and wrote her first
and maiden name without hesitation. Then I said how about your married
name? She couldn't remember at first, but when I told her what it was,
she wrote it down perfectly! the wonderful thing about this is that
her stroke on Dec 2 2001, she could not write anything without first
seeing it and copying it, including her name. She couldn't get anything
straight from her brain to the paper.
Now she can write her name without a second thought. Of course, she
can't write mine or anyone else's, but I
still feel that this is a big thing and I told her so.
The next day something just as fantastic happened. She was trying to
tell me something,
but could only get out jargon. I finally told her to pick up a pencil
and paper and draw what she wanted to say.(She can draw quite well,
with her left hand). Well, I went to do something else and came back
have her hand me a paper. On it was drawn four round objects and next
them was the word "haven't" written perfectly, apostrophe and all!
The message was clear she hadn't had her pills! I was almost in tears
her looking at me like I was nuts. I tried to explain to her that this
was something she was not able to do in over a year and that it was
We start back at the college for speech on Tues. I have already talked
her clinician and she wants to see what we have been doing and will
welcome our working together. This thrills me!
I hope you see it as a breakthrough, too. And Thank you again and
New News about Ben, received April 2001
Ben Edwards, 23, had hardly spoken a word since his massive CVA in March
1999, even though he had been given extensive speech therapy. Yet he was
determined to talk again.
Then his parents, Cindi and Lance Edwards, found StrokeFamily.org, an
Internet site for stroke patients that offers home speech practice on the
"He was going to speech therapy but was only able to say 1 word out
10 on the beginning word list. This went on for 5 months. Then we found
out about Let's Talk program at Stroke Family and signed up for a year's
"Ben worked on it several times and then one day pointed to a grocery
list I was writing. 'Milk!' he said, reading the word. I broke down and
cried, I hadn't heard his voice in so long! We really appreciate the program--it's
wonderful for home practice--which is just what he needed to make this breakthrough."
Cindi bought the guide too. The guide explained that they needed to
have him work with the program everyday and that new memories and brain
patterns begin to fade after 48 hours. Over time--the guide suggests up
to two years--and with repetitious use of the alternate hand along with
sound, new neurological pathways can become firmly established. The program
allows access 24 hours a day over the internet and delivers voice and graphics.
Operating the mouse and clicking on pictures stimulates new pathways in
the brain through the sense of touch.
She also noted that his speech therapist is extremely happy with it,
because now they're really making progress! "We knew it was the program,
because he had been working on the food words for months and could only say
one. With Let's Talk and therapy together he's up to 6 out of 10 words--and
those 6 are words he practiced using the program over the Web. Now he is saying
new ones each week. "
"Let's see, he's got banana down, and also fork and spoon," says his
mom, " but we're still working on knife. Knife is hard to say.
We call him 'Mr. Determination'. We now have hope he will be able to
say it one day. You've given us so much hope and encouragement."
"Ben loves the Let's Talk program. He works on it every day he can,
4 times a day. It is really great that you've made this so affordable
too--that really helps. We can't thank you enough for this wonderful program!"