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Humans of the U: Alex Terrill

"In my research, we use couples-based approaches to harness existing strengths in family relationships while also supporting the unique needs of patients and family caregivers. I don't pretend to know what the most important things are to people who have had strokes, I want to hear it from them. I don’t just focus on the person who had the stroke, but also the family."

“Both of my grandmothers had multiple strokes before they passed away. One lived in Finland, the other in Switzerland. My Finnish grandma’s first stroke happened when I was very young. I didn’t really understand a whole lot about it at that point. We barely spoke the same language. When I was a teenager, my other grandmother had her first stroke. I was really close to her. It became apparent that she wasn’t the same person anymore, which was really difficult. Her personality changed. Once I was old enough to travel on my own I would fly over to Switzerland over summer break and help her out. My mom just had a stroke earlier this year. That hit very close to home.

We always think of stroke as having physical consequences, but I think I was more struck by some of the psychological and social consequences. In my research, we use couples-based approaches to harness existing strengths in family relationships while also supporting the unique needs of patients and family caregivers. I don’t pretend to know what the most important things are to people who have had strokes, I want to hear it from them. I don’t just focus on the person who had the stroke, but also the family.

Developing an app with The GApp Lab at the U is a very creative, fun process. It’s a way to get an intervention, our SupportGroove app, out to people who need it because most people who are rurally located have a smartphone and access to the internet. This was a way we felt we could reach more people.

I’ve been given so much that this is now a way to pay it forward.”

— Alexandra Terrill, assistant professor, Occupational & Recreational Therapies. Learn more about Terrill’s uSPRiNG lab here.

[bs_well size=”md”]We’ll be featuring Humans of the U and sharing their stories throughout the year with the university community. If you know someone with a compelling story, let us know at ThisWeek@utah.edu.[/bs_well]