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Stroke Support Group

Stroke and Brain Injury Support Group at McLaren Northern Michigan

Stroke and brain injury support groupOn February 7, 2010, Gina McElgunn (middle) experienced a massive brain bleed which resulted in a hemorrhagic stroke while she was traveling to Mexico on a business trip. Gina believes that her life was spared for some reason. As a result, she’s committed to helping others who have experienced strokes or brain injuries. In January, 2013, Gina became a volunteer in the McLaren Northern Michigan Acute Rehabilitation Unit visiting with other Stroke Survivors. Her ultimate goal was to start a stroke support group in northern Michigan.

On December 16, 2004, Letty Hulsman (right) experienced "the worst headache in her life" while visiting family in Atlanta, GA. At Emory University Hospital, she was diagnosed with a ruptured brain aneurysm. Letty considers herself blessed to be in the one-third of patients who survive without major complications.  One-third of patients immediately die and the other third have life-long problems including blindness and paralysis.

Letty met Gina in 2012 and talked about the many similarities of their illnesses including the challenges of physical and brain exercises, among others. Working with Elaine Siwiec (left), a nurse clinician with McLaren Northern Michigan, Gina and Letty started the Stroke and Brain Injury Support Group. Their first meeting was in May, 2013.

“To me, as a survivor, we are learning from one another and aren't alone in what we experience,” Gina said.

"The Support Group is for all individuals who have experienced brain or stroke challenges as well as their caregivers,” Letty said. “This opportunity to help one another has been a great experience. Sometimes it's filled with tears and other times laughter.  As one attendee told me ‘you give me hope.’ What more could you ask for?" 

The support group meets the second Tuesday of every month from 6 - 7:30 p.m. at the John and Marnier Demmer Wellness Paviliion and Dialysis Center. If you cannot make the meeting in person, a conference line is available so participants can listen from home. CLICK HERE for more information.