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7Everyday Hero: Speech pathologist helps stroke survivors reclaim their lives

Posted at 11:07 AM, Aug 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-27 13:14:44-04

DENVER — Sometimes there is no better medicine than laughter, especially when finding the right words feels impossible.

The Washington Park Aphasia Club is a group of people brought together by a devastating condition — aphasia, or the loss of the ability to understand speech or talk.

"This isn't about being sick, this is about being alive," said speech pathologist Julie Harrington. "Everybody came in this room because they struggle with aphasia, which is that little-known word about trouble talking after head injury (or a) stroke."

Joe Garrity started coming to the group 13 years ago. At the time, he struggled to find his words. Then, he met Harrington, who's been helping people battling aphasia for the past 18 years.

"I couldn't talk at all because of a stroke," Garrity said. "Finding this group and every Wednesday coming to this one, has just helped me so much and so now I'm back to my life."

Relearning to talk can be frustrating and defeating at times.

"People have aphasia — (it's) hard," said stroke survivor Gary Ellis. "So people learn speech all over again. Some people — (their) speech (is) hardly nothing or 100% after you get recovery."

Thanks to Harrington's unwavering commitment to stroke survivors, recovery is possible, and with the right group, even a little fun.

Molly Hendrickson anchors Denver7 in the mornings from 4:30-7 a.m. She also features a different 7Everyday Hero each week on Denver7. Follow Molly on Facebook here and Twitter here. To nominate a hero in your life, click here.