Stroke survivor stories - Youko Yamaguchi, Japan

The stories of stroke survivors are what drives our fight at the World Stroke Organization to achieve our goal of a world free from stroke. Welcome to our stroke survivor stories series, which we'll pop up on the blog every Thursday, you may wish to contribute to this poignant narrative of stroke globally. Please contact

Where were you when the stroke happened?  
My wife, Youko Yamaguchi, was travelling with her friends 17 years ago. While chattering at a night club after dinner she had a subarachnoid haemorrhage at the age of 53. The hotel manager called an ambulance, and she was taken to an emergency hospital

Could you access hospital?
A phone call at 11 pm asked me to come to the hospital soon. I drove about 440 km all night, and arrived there at 7 am. After I approved the surgical operation, it took place immediately.  The shrinkage of blood vessels occurred 7 days after the operation and my wife suffered aphasia and became right side hemiplegic.

What expectations did you have for treatment, rehabilitation, recovery?
We didn’t know anything about aphasia, so we couldn’t imagine anything about treatment, rehabilitation and recovery.   She murmured “I am sorry, sorry, I made a serious thing! How should I manage many tasks to be done”. She couldn’t recognize that she couldn’t continue these tasks.  One month later without any special rehabilitation, she left the hospital.

What was your experience of treatment and/or rehabilitation?
Two days later, after we returned home, my wife was admitted to a rehabilitation hospital cerebrovascular center.  Here physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy took place.  She was positive about the physical therapy because it was carried out in a large gym and she could connect with other patients. On the other hand, occupational therapy and speech therapy took place in a small private room, and therapists sat down side by side without noticing the appearance of my wife. They executed the curriculum without any advice or instruction from their superiors.  During three months stay, my wife’s communication didn’t improve clearly.  But, she could stand up and walk by herself and use a spoon and knife with her right hand.

What has helped in the recovery?
Three months later she moved to the another rehabilitation center in Yokohama for two months, which mainly focused on language rehabilitation. The speech therapist sat face to face with my wife, greeted and talked about easy topics.  Then, the language rehabilitation curriculum started. This speech therapist advised us to make a Japanese syllabary table. Each Hiragana was combined with each Chinese character which was easier to remember than Hiragana for my wife.  Using this table, rehabilitation was carried on.  Also, this speech therapist advised my wife to join the calligraphy circle which was open next door to the hospital.  After my wife left the hospital, we visited once every week for language rehabilitation for two and half years.   The speech therapist advised us to install specific software to my wife’s PC, and advised my wife to write and send a short mail to the therapist about any topics.  A few days later the return mail came back without fail. Video conversation through IPad and Facetime with daughters and grandchildren was also a great help for her rehabilitation.

What have been/are your fears?
When my wife has to live alone, how she can manage to live daily life without my support.   This is the most serious matter to us.

How did your family and friends feel and respond? 
Our two daughters were at a loss when the accident happened.  They lived apart from us and were too busy to help their mom due to their office works. But they afforded as much time as possible to talk, encourage and go shopping with mom in their holidays.   To close relatives and friends, I explained about aphasia and asked them to talk slowly and clearly and write on paper.  Now, the situation has improved. She can walk and use both hands, and conducts most housework.
My wife doesn’t hesitate to talk to close friend and relatives and goes shopping or enjoys chatting with them. 

Stroke survivor stories - Youko Yamaguchi, Japan Reviewed by Sarah Belson on Thursday, April 06, 2017 Rating: 5

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