October Man of the Month: John D. Phillips, Ph.D.

John-Phillips-SCC-1As part of our celebration of World Stroke Day (October 29) we are pleased to announce that John D. Phillips, Ph.D. is Disruptive Women in Health Care’s October Man of the Month. John, co-founder of the Stroke Comeback Center, is a visionary who saw an unmet need, and helped to create an innovative solution.

John was one of those well-connected Washington insiders, who had served as a deputy commissioner for higher education in the Ford Administration, then served as founding president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and then ran an executive search practice specializing in recruiting college presidents. Then, his hectic workaholic lifestyle came to a sudden halt when he suffered a stroke. During his recovery, he noticed and felt some very large gaps in resources needed for recovery, particularly for people whose stroke had caused communication difficulties.  Working with his speech therapists and others, he co-founded the non-profit Stroke Comeback Center, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.

Question:  John, tell us a little about your stroke.

Answer:  Most people who are attacked by stroke suffer the more common blockade stroke — where a clot or constriction in the blood vessel prevents oxygen from getting to the brain, and rapidly kills brain cells until the obstruction is removed. (more…)

Women’s Guidelines for the Prevention of Stroke

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I am a Science and Medicine advisor for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA). I assisted the Stroke Council in the development of Stroke Guidelines rising from the Stroke Council.  The AHA/ASA develops evidence based guidelines to aid healthcare providers in making decisions on best care practices solidly based on what science we have now.  The AHA/ASA felt it important to define prevention guidelines specifically focused to women and stroke.  These Guidelines were published in the spring of 2014, and the interest in these guidelines has been amazing!  The AHA/ASA Stroke Guidelines are developed by our esteemed group of stroke experts.  These experts are leaders in the field of stroke science.  The AHA/ASA Stroke Council updates these guidelines about every 3-5 years or as we acquire new science that would impact and potentially change the guidelines and care of women in the US.  The AHA/ASA is deeply committed to making sure that the community had what we feel are best prevention practices for the community.

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An Innovative Approach to Stroke & Aphasia Recovery: Part 2, Groups

brookeHOne day long ago I found myself dancercising in the basement of a bingo hall.  This was, to make a gross understatement, way out of my newly single comfort zone. I was awkward at best and going the wrong way at worst, but I was in a group with 200 others trying to do the same thing. I went back, and found a community of people I had little in common with other than this shared experience. I worked harder because I saw them working harder. Soon I knew a few routines and was offering encouragement to newcomers. I was getting more confident; healthier.   You probably have a similar story – a group you didn’t expect to join but pushed you to be better.

Groups are powerful things – little organisms that wiggle and struggle, contract and expand, create and adapt. Those who need a hand get one; those who can lend a hand offer it. (more…)

An Innovative Approach to Stroke & Aphasia Recovery: Part 1, Life Participation

dswprophotoA1Here’s the scenario:  A 51 year-old woman is having the worst headache she has ever experienced.  Let’s call her Linda.  She is concerned and decides to lie down to see if it subsides.  Alone in the bedroom, she experiences a stroke.  She is conscious but cannot move her right side and cannot call out for help.  Her husband, let’s call him Jim, finds her, recognizes that something is terribly wrong and calls 9-1-1.

She is taken to the local hospital; the immediate question posed in the emergency room, “What time did symptoms occur?”  Jim does not know and Linda cannot answer.  She has been diagnosed as having had a CVA (cerebral vascular accident) or stroke.  An MRI reveals that a clot has traveled to the left side of her brain, but she was not given the clot busting drug treatment because there is a 4 hour window and the time of her stroke is not known.  Linda is stabilized and transferred to the neurological unit.  (more…)

My Personal Stroke Story

IMG_0794I first shared my story in 2008 as the Passion Speaker for the American Heart Association at the Go Red for Women Luncheon in San Antonio, Texas. And I told my story many times in the next few years to the various corporate partners and in private homes where both men and women had gathered to learn about women’s risk for stroke.

Today, more than 16 years after having a stroke, I continue to tell my story with others as a You’re the Cure advocate in Washington DC. I presented at the Maryland Million Hearts Symposium and on Washington DC’s CBS TV station WUSA9 last winter. You can watch my interview with WUSA9 here.

I am proud to be an Inaugural Member of the Circle of Red for the Greater Washington DC Circle of Red in 2014. (more…)



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