Rick and Marty

A big lesson in what's possible

Rick Diecchio had just retired as associate dean of the College of Science at George Mason University in Virginia when he had a stroke in August 2016. He was 69. Rick and his wife, Marty Lindemann, had been looking forward to travelling, spending time outdoors and enjoying more meals out together. After the stroke, their focus switched to helping Rick regain his speaking abilities.

But they couldn’t do it alone. They researched intensive aphasia therapy options in the US and Canada, and settled on InteRACT’s 4.5-week program. It was the caregiver component—Marty would attend, or be involved in, most of Rick’s therapy sessions—that set InteRACT apart.

“I definitely had the expectation that InteRACT would help us,” says Marty, “and it would help me learn how to help Rick. Being a high school teacher, I have a teacher mindset, but I didn’t have the skills to help him learn to communicate again.”

Increased pace of learning

For both Rick and Marty, InteRACT was a roaring success. Not only did Rick’s verbal communication improve, but the program “sped up the pace of us learning how to communicate with each other,” says Marty.

He credits the InteRACT staff with knowing exactly how to schedule the day for maximum results. “It was obvious they really knew what they were doing.”

Continuing education

Watching Rick’s language skills transform was also inspiring. “Just to see all those little changes, it was like, ‘Wow … it’s just going to improve and improve.’ It was a big lesson in what’s possible. A lot is possible.”

And the improvements didn’t stop at the end of the session. “I think we’re both continuing to learn based on the jumping off point from the InteRACT program.”

Rick chimes in: “Yes, ’cause after it, I could speak better. That was my—well, everything."

Rick returned to InteRACT for a one-on-one refresher program—available to alumni—in the fall of 2017. His skills continued to improve measurably. He and Marty left Halifax, equipped to begin exploring their new home in Colorado.