On May 16, during Stroke Awareness Month, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital (USC-VHH) held its second annual Strokes for Strokes event for stroke survivors and their caretakers. This event is free to the public and draws on research that painting may be beneficial in stroke recovery.

“Engaging in art therapy is not only is enjoyable, but also supports key areas of rehabilitation for patients with a history of stroke,” said Julie Shadpa, art therapist at USC-VHH. “It enhances fine motor skills, attention, problem-solving and, of course, self-expression, which is especially important for patients who have impaired speech.”

Many of this year’s attendees also attend USC-VHH’s Speakeasy communication group, a weekly session wherein survivors of stroke and traumatic brain injury can exercise speaking, listening and memory skills with a licensed speech-language pathologist. The classes are $10 each and do not require a physician referral.

After replicating a serene landscape painting and socializing over lunch, attendees expressed very positive feedback and looked forward to more events to supplement their Speakeasy sessions.

“I’m always amazed by how quickly art therapy establishes a positive response and sense of support for the group,” Shadpa said. “Whether it’s participation in clinical art therapy sessions or taking a painting class, bringing art into your daily routine really encourages overall health and wellness.”

— Mary Dacuma

(Photo/Ricardo Carrasco III)

(Photo/Ricardo Carrasco III)