How would you communicate if you could no longer speak or write?
There are 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK and a third of them will be left with a communication disorder that affects their ability to speak, read or write.
At the Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability (RHN) many of our patients have lost their ability to communicate due to a brain injury, like a stroke, or because they have a neurological condition like Motor Neurone Disease.
Support our appeal today and you could provide access to communication technology for a person living with disability.
The sudden loss of speech and being able to express oneself can be devastating for a patient and their loved ones.
At the RHN, we pick up the pieces caused by strokes and other types of brain injury and help survivors start a second life.
We give the long term care, understanding and technology needed to help people adjust to their new life, living with a disability.
With people I don’t know very well I can come across as normal. Which is good … I think people generally make snap judgements about others based on their looks. They shouldn’t but they do.
If their perception of me is limited to text, they’re forced to evaluate me on what I’ve written, not how I look or how I put my thoughts together.
The Compass computer room here provides a range of devices and systems that help people communicate if they have difficulty speaking.
Our computers are adapted for use by patients with limited mobility, allowing them to communicate face to face, and use social media to stay in touch with relatives and friends.
Patients can also use the computers to play games like Scrabble, keeping their minds active and stimulated, and they can also browse the internet.
I can express complex information better in an email.
Email is a particularly popular tool with patients who have suddenly lost the ability to speak.
It is staffed by a team of communication and computer specialists who work with each patient to find a communication method that suits them.
Trained volunteers also provide support to our patients.
If a question is complicated you get a better response from the person by sending them an email.
Every year we raise over £40,000 to run the computer room and maintain the equipment. The service is entirely funded by donations from people like you.
In December 2011, at the age of 51, Clive suffered a stroke. The stroke resulted in a brain injury that has left him unable to speak or use his hands.
Life after his stroke could have been very bleak for Clive, unable to communicate with loved ones or even express simple needs.
But with the help of a dedicated team of communication and technology specialists here at the RHN, Clive can now talk to friends and visitors, email his grandchildren and pursue his favourite hobbies; music and family history research.
He can do all this thanks to our fantastic community of supporters, who give over £40,000 a year to support the RHN’s computer room.
Clive visits the computer room regularly, and has become great friends with Stan, one of the RHN’s team of trained volunteers. Every week they attend the RHN’s computer room to work on Clive’s family tree and answer emails from his children and grandchildren.
Although it may seem slow and painstaking to us, being able to use a simple switch on his wheelchair to access the internet has opened up a whole world of communication for Clive, a world that had seemed lost to him after his stroke.
“It is vital for me to get computer time as it is my only outlet for what I want to say. I am also enjoying writing a book for the first time.”
Someone suffers a stroke every five minutes in the UK.
Illnesses and accidents aren’t selective. They can happen to anyone. But you can help the survivors, by supporting their access to the latest technology, the kind of technology that has made such a huge difference for Clive.
Every penny you give will provide access to the devices and systems needed by patients who have been left unable to communicate.
A gift of £15 could buy a simple electronic switch like the type Clive uses. We also provide specially adapted keyboards and large format screens for patients with vision problems, so your donation could ensure that the computer room at the RHN is fully equipped for years to come.
Alternatively you might choose to support our patients in a slightly different way. Just £30 would pay for a disabled patient to enjoy a session of communication therapy with one of our specialist team. Either way, you could help unlock a world of communication possibilities for someone like Clive.