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El Paso stroke survivors use dance to heal physically and emotionally

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- El Paso stroke survivors have found healing in the form of dance.

"A stroke can affect anyone. It doesn't matter. The age, sex, um, ethnicity," said Jacqueline Alvarado, Speech Language Pathologist.

Lisa Smith is a retired UTEP Dance Program Director. She developed a dance workshop after she experience a stroke of her own.

"I couldn't. I couldn't speak and couldn't move my arm and couldn't move my leg. So it's difficult. It's difficult. It's difficult," said Lisa Smith.

She is leading a dance workshop for stroke survivors like herself.

"We are very proud of Lisa being a participant in the aphasia group and using her passion for dance and creating this program for our future connection center," said Alvarado.

The dance classes are supported by the El Paso Aphasia Connection Center. A nonprofit that offers free group speech therapy for people who have had strokes or brain injuries and now have Aphasia.

Aphasia is a complication that affects over one-third of stroke survivors causing difficulty communicating and speaking after a brain injury.

"So we found that dance is really inspiring," said Alvarado. "We are getting into the rhythm and dancing and moving and just having a good time, which is stimulating their movement and then their language as well."

Each class is one hour long and includes instruction in gyrokinesis, tap, and modern dance with the goal of supporting recovery through the arts.

"I would like to tell someone who has had a stroke to have movement. To have movement, because the dance, it has no boundary," said Smith.

The connection center plans to add more classes to encourage movement as a form of healing.

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