Never before has there been a way for the nearly 6.5 million stroke survivors in the United States to rally together as they travel the path to recovery. Unlike other survivor communities, there is no banner, symbol or color that survivors and the general public can identify with when it comes to stroke and stroke recovery.
That is changing with the launch of National Stroke Association’s Come Back Strong initiative, the first national movement to rally for stroke recovery. It was created to inspire hope following a stroke, so those survivors now have a voice.
“This is a history-making moment for the stroke community,” said Matt Lopez, CEO of National Stroke Association. “Survivors and their caregivers have been asking for a unified message, a symbol, a color to support them as they come back strong from stroke.
“As a stroke survivor myself, I understand the desire to return to our normal selves that drives stroke survivors forward. Come Back Strong serves as a starting point to hope that one day people everywhere will understand what a stroke is, how to avoid one and the real opportunity that exists to come back strong after stroke.”
The movement, created to raise awareness about the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, is centered on a blue return symbol. Intentionally left open, it represents the drive for stroke survivors to come back strong and return to their former self, or a new normal. The reality of stroke survivors is a story of sudden and shocking loss followed by a return to hope for recovery. In the aftermath of a stroke, recovery is about getting back to normal life and living as independently as possible.
“Since my stroke in 2005, I’ve learned to walk again, talk again, even swallow again,” said Mark McEwen, former national TV morning show host. “As I got stronger, I got busy and discovered a whole community of stroke survivors and caregivers.
“But throughout my recovery journey, there was always something gnawing at me. Whenever I saw a yellow wristband or distinctive ribbon, I thought, ‘Why not us?’ The Come Back Strong movement changes that. This, finally, is for us. It’s important and powerful, and will raise stroke awareness in a hugely impactful way.”
There are several resources to help you support the cause:
• Stroke.org: National Stroke Association’s website offers resources and support survivors and caregivers can use as they learn to live with new challenges.
• Shop stroke: You can support the cause through purchasing bracelets and T-shirts, and participating in donation opportunities.
• Comeback trail events: Participate in a series of national events scheduled to rally the community behind the movement.
• #ComeBackStrong: Supporters can follow along and get involved in the movement by using #ComeBackStrong on social media.
For more information on Come Back Strong and to find resources for stroke survivors and caregivers, visit stroke.org or call 1-800-STROKES.