Pam Bedford regularly finds herself teaching her fellow stroke survivors about their new normal.
“Just because we can't do something the way we used to do it doesn't mean we can't do it,” she said. “We just have to find different ways of getting it done.”
Bedford is part of a movement of survivors in the Oklahoma City metro area who are raising awareness about life after stroke or brain injury.
Bedford volunteers with Operation: Helping Brains, a volunteer network among survivors of stroke and brain injury.
Janet Spradlin started the volunteer group last year as a part of a project for a leadership academy in which she was participating. Spradlin, a licensed rehabilitation psychologist, got the idea to start Operation: Helping Brains through a stroke support group she started 1993.
Operation: Helping Brains was initially just a short-term project, but Spradlin saw the joy that volunteering brought to survivors and thought the group should continue.
“One of the things I always talk to the group about is being proactive and empowering themselves to they can have a good quality of life after stroke,” Spradlin said. “They can reinvent themselves, and one of the ways is by helping others and feeling useful, productive and valued.”
So far, the group has volunteered around Oklahoma City, including at the Oklahoma City Zoological Park and Botanical Gardens and also at the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma. During April, group members will volunteer for a diabetes support organization for an upcoming fundraiser.