A Mile in Her Own Shoes



Survivor and athlete Alisha Park enjoys a running session.

Sunday, May 24, 2015, was no regular Sunday. Sure, it was Memorial Day weekend, but it was also the day I ran with Audrey, my closest high school friend and former teammate, on a local outdoor track at Danehy Park in Cambridge, Mass. We met up in the morning and planned to run a mile together, but this was no ordinary run. I finished my first official mile in more than seven years.

Seven years might be a long time without running a mile, but time didn’t matter to me. I was just happy to meet my goal. Plus, I’m no regular young adult. At 16, I had a hemorrhagic stroke from an AVM (arteriovenous malformation), leaving my left side weak.

During high school, I was a varsity rower and ran indoor track. I returned to rowing six months after the stroke and figured running would pick up soon after. However, it proved more challenging than I expected. Exercise in general became mentally tedious at times and soon the motivation to row or run began to fade. A part of me felt embarrassed, tired and frustrated to move in front of others even when it was fun. I rested from both activities my first year at Bryn Mawr College.

It was during that time I tried yoga for my required gym class. Yoga gave me the positive mindset to accept my physical setbacks and limitations. Realizing I missed rowing more than ever, I returned to the water the following year and didn’t stop until graduation.

For several years, I could not run more than half a mile. While on a visit, my father coaxed me out to a local park to try running again. He said anxiety was preventing me from running a longer distance. When I could relax my body and ignore others staring at my leg brace, I would be able to run farther. That comment sparked something in my mind and the motivation to run began flowing.

I promised him during that outing I would exercise more frequently and practice running at least once a week. Afterwards, early every Sunday morning, I ran around at my local track adding one more lap each week. Running a mile was going to happen in no time! The missing pieces were slowly fitting together.

Recovering from a stroke has taught me patience, resilience and the determination to never give up on goals, even when they seem farfetched. Once I ran with my good friend and pre-stroke running buddy, I soared. Next up, completing a 5K!

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Stroke Rehabilitation Two-Part Series

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

What to Expect in Stroke Rehab

Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-art series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
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Departments

Stroke Notes

Stroke-related news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Readers Room

Articles, poems and art submitted by stroke survivors and their loved ones.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These stroke survivors, caregivers and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Everyday Survival

Practical tips and advice for day-to day living after stroke.

Life At The Curb

A unique perspective on survival by comedian and stroke survivor John Kawie.

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.

Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!