Marina Charalambous, founder of the Cyprus Stroke Association (CSA) and member of the World Stroke Organization Future Leaders Programme, shares tells us about the work of the Association and navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cyprus Stroke Association (CSA) is the official Stroke Support Organization in Cyprus, established in 2009. The primary aim of CSA is to raise stroke awareness in Cyprus and work for the improvement of the quality of life of people with stroke and their carers. As a Stroke Aphasiologist and researcher, I recognized the need for such an organization in my country to increase stroke awareness and support those affected by stroke. I am currently the President of the Board, the Secretary of the Stroke Alliance for Europe and a member of the Future Stroke Leaders Program of WSO.
CSA and Stroke Awareness
CSA is actively involved in the annual activities of the World Stroke Campaign. Our activities include annual stroke related scientific conferences and stroke awareness and prevention events around the country. Further, the FAST acronym for stroke detection was formally adapted in Greek by CSA as ΑΠΛΑ. This adaptation led to the creation of several resources for dissemination such as bookmarks, fridge magnets etc. CSA has officially translated the StrokeRiskometer App and we disseminate this fantastic resource in the stroke community and to medical and health care societies.
CSA and Research
CSA is also involved in Stroke related research. Specifically, in the European Erasmus + project, with the Acronym “I-Train” which is a mobile digital training for direct care workers dealing with stroke survivors, the “ASPIRE” Project (EXCELLENCE/1216/0517) dealing with the assessment of post stroke aphasia in collaboration with the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, Cyprus University of Technology, and the “ACESO” Project (EXCELLENCE/0918/117) concerning the treatment of awareness deficits in acquired brain injuries to improve patient outcomes, in collaboration with the Center for Applied Neuroscience, University of Cyprus.
CSA and the Community
CSA runs weekly stroke support groups at the premises of the Rehabilitation Clinic of the Cyprus University of Technology (CUT). In 2018, CSA established ‘The Aphasia Communication Team’ (TACT), a communication and conversation group for people with aphasia after stroke, managed and facilitated by me and my team. The group is supported by ‘communication buddies’, which are mainly practicing speech and language therapy students from the Rehabilitation Sciences Department of the CUT. TACT includes four groups: (a) a communication and conversation group for adults with aphasia after stroke (b) an aphasia choir in collaboration with a neuro music therapist (c) an aphasia cooking club (d) a support group of young stroke survivors.
CSA and the COVID-19 pandemic
Immediately after the outburst of the pandemic CSA managed to ‘transfer’ the communication group for people with stroke along with the music therapy sessions online. The aim was to create a safe and supportive environment for people with stroke in Cyprus and to prevent the lockdown’s multifaceted effects.
CSA has also established a hotline where people with stroke could access direct information on various health related issues and psychological support. The TACT team also prepared accessible and aphasia friendly resources for people with stroke and aphasia on COVID-19 basic information, social distancing rules and vaccination updates.
For more information visit: https://stroke.org.cy/
Achieving our vision of a life free from stroke is a task that WSO cannot achieve alone. We are committed to building our partnerships at the global, regional and national level to scale up and deliver improvements in prevention, treatment and support to reduce the burden of stroke.