Humans of the U: Alex Terrill

“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.

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