Stroke survivors finding focus with camera club

- The path to recovery is often a challenging one for stroke survivors, but one club in the metro is helping those recover with the snap of a picture.

On a picture perfect November day, stroke survivor Steve Erickson is taking it all in from behind his camera lens.

“I can do the things I want to,” said Erickson.

It’s a snapshot, if you will, of what he has reclaimed in the ten years since having a stroke.             

Erickson is part of a camera club at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in St. Louis Park made up of stroke survivors, who have all found a place together. Their photo portfolio is full images of recovery, finding light in the darkness.

“Just physically operating the camera causes you to do physical things,” said Glenn Tenhoff, a stroke victim and camera club member.

“Depression - it goes away when you are here with these people and I’ve met many, many friends now,” said Liz Wallis, a stroke survivor and camera club member.

Medical staff say the club has had a powerful impact on its members.

“You can see that they’ve regained their happiness,” said Dr. Matthew Ostrander, a neurologist. “Their mood is dramatically improved.”

The camera club is one of a number of groups the hospital has for stroke survivors, a program they call “Inspire.”

“All of a sudden you realize this is my life and it’s moving on without me,” said Wallis.

They hold an annual greeting card assembly when they take the pictures they’ve gathered and turn them into cards to sell at the hospital’s holiday craft sale.

The art of photography certainly helps push the brain as it continues to re-wire itself.

“It’s really important to challenge the brain, I think it does force the brain to remodel,” said Ostrander. “I think the camaraderie is a huge piece of it.”

But the best medicine? Just having a hobby to share and people who get you to share it with.

“I think mostly, it’s community. Everybody gets together and helps each other out,” said Glenn Tenhoff.

It’s all about getting better, one image at a time.
               
“These are my friends now,” said Wallis. “And I know if I needed help here, they would all help me.  I know that.”
 

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