Allied Services employee and stroke survivor shares experiences to help other patients with their recovery

Allied Services employee and stroke survivor shares experiences to help other patients with their recovery

Deborah Roszkowski, OTR/L, CDRS, was just 34 years old when she survived a brainstem stroke. The experience taught her the importance of never giving up. This is one of the messages she shares when she works with patients who have experienced a stroke. 

Now, Deborah hopes that her personal experiences as a stroke survivor and professional experience as an occupational therapist at Allied Services can help stroke survivors and their families. She will lead the Stroke Support Group at Allied Services. The group was placed on hold during the pandemic and is re-starting in February 2023. 

“When I had my stroke in 1999 my whole life changed. I was working as an occupational therapist and certified driver rehabilitation specialist at Allied Services in Wilkes-Barre. My baby was about 2 years old. I felt fine. Everything was great - until it wasn’t, " shares Deborah. 

“When I woke up in the intensive care unit, I had what is called ‘locked-in syndrome’. I was cognitively intact and aware, but all other function was lost. The only thing I could do was blink my left eye.”

Deborah spent 1 month in the acute care hospital and then an additional 3 months at the inpatient rehab hospital where she was an employee. Deborah received physical, speech, and occupational therapies from co-workers she knew and respected. She was able to return home in a wheelchair and cotinued her recovery with the support of Health Health and Outpatient Rehab at Allied Services. 

After a stroke, many survivors and their caregivers suddenly face new challenges. 

Today, despite paralysis and other impairments, Deborah feels she has a good life and wants other stroke survivors to know they aren’t alone. After the pandemic stopped many in-person support groups, Deborah is re-starting the Stroke Support Group at Allied Services Wilkes-Barre Rehab Hospital.

“There are definitely adjustments that you have to make both physically and mentally after a stroke," says Deborah. "Some are temporary, and a lot are permanent, but when you are surrounded by a group of your peers - each one providing support to the next – well, we each have a purpose, and we can each have an effect and a chance to make a difference in someone’s life.” 

Stroke Support Group

The Stroke Support Group will meet the first Thursday of each month beginning February 2. Meetings will be in the Board Room of the health systems Wilkes-Barre Rehab Hospital located at 150 Mundy St, Wilkes-Barre from 4:30 to 6:00 p.m.

The group is free and open to all stroke survivors and their family members, caregivers, and friends.