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UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica Hosts New Stroke Support Group for Patients, Family Members and Friends

A free monthly support group for patients who have experienced a stroke – and their loves ones – will meet Wednesday, March 15, from 3 to 4 p.m. in the Physicians’ Dining Room at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica.

Led by patient advocate Dana Rivera, along with social worker Steve Thomas, the support group will feature educational presentations by stroke experts, lively discussions and empathetic listening to aid stroke patients, their families and caregivers. Subsequent meetings will occur on the third Wednesday of each month.

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Rivera is a patient advocate and support group leader based in West Los Angeles. A fully recovered stroke survivor, she shares her story of overcoming a traumatic and life-changing event. Drawing from her own experience, she helps guide stroke survivors through what can be a complex recovery process.

Thomas, a licensed clinical social worker at the hospital, has extensive experience providing psychosocial support to patients and their family members.

“It’s important to note that this group is not only for people who have recently experienced a stroke,” said Thomas. “It’s also for people whose strokes may have occurred quite some time ago but still need support as they reclaim their lives.”

Also leading the group will be Pamela Nye, a clinical nurse specialist in neurosciences and coordinator of the stroke program at UCLA’s Santa Monica campus.

“Stroke can affect people of all ages from all walks of life,” said Nye. “Within the past month, we have seen two very young patients who experienced strokes – one was 47 and the other was 23. Although the needs of younger stroke patients may differ significantly from those of older patients, this group is designed to address each individual’s unique circumstances.”

The support group meetings are free, but seating is limited and advance registration is recommended. To RSVP or for more information, please email Nye, PNye@mednet.ucla.edu, or call 424-259-8390.

Participants can use valet parking at the hospital’s main (1250 16th Street) or Orthopaedic (1225 15th Street) entrances and it will be validated. Upon arrival at the medical center, ask Security or the Information Desk for directions to the meeting location.

According to the National Stroke Association:

  • Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of adult disability.
  • Sometimes known as a “brain attack,” stroke can happen to anyone at any time.
  • Over the last decade, there was a 44 percent increase in the number of young Americans hospitalized due to stroke.
  • Up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable.
  • Time is Brain – At any sign of stroke, call 9-1-1- immediately.
  • There are nearly 7 million stroke survivors in the U.S.
  • Family history of stroke increases your stroke risk.
  • Temporary stroke symptoms, known as transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) are warning signs before actual strokes. Take them seriously!
  • Learn the sudden warning signs of stroke so you can recognize and respond accordingly. FAST:
    • Face drooping
    • Arm numbness or weakness
    • Speech difficulty
    • Time to call 9-1-1 immediately.
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