Newsmakers Making A Difference: Deborah Giesler, Synapse House

Julie Mann
May 08, 2018 - 9:18 am

WBBM Newsradio/Julie Mann

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- What now?  It's a question Deborah Giesler said she heard often as a speech therapist and as someone who helped others deal with the aftermath of a brain injury or stroke. 

"It's so immediate, it just takes a spilt second for people to have their lives changed, so dramatically," Giesler said.

Giesler is the Executive Director of Synapse House in Elmhurst, a non-profit organization for individuals who have suffered a brain injury or stroke relearn life skills to reach employment readiness again.

"One third of all strokes occur under the age of 65," according to Giesler.  "So, about 50 percent of the people we see here are in their 40's and 50's with stroke."

Synapse House serves two types of people, including those who are in need of outpatient services and have more aggressive rehabilitative goals. There are other individuals who are many years post injury and just want to get out of their house and do something productive again; and feel like they are giving back to the community and have friendships and a network of support.

"The door is always open," she said.

WBBM Newsradio/Julie Mann

One area therapy is put into practice is in the Flour to Empower bakery inside Synapse House

"The bakery is a great way for people to reinforce life skills like baking.  If they've had a stroke they may not be able to use maybe one side of their body," said Giesler.  "How do you cook or cut." 

The bakery is also a way to produce a product that generates funding for the non-profit services Synapse House provides.  

Giesler said depending on the type of injury, progress can be slow and most people, she said, tell her there is something that doesn't come back. But the goal is to keep people stimulated through challenging work to reach their goals. 

"Whether that is getting a story out on our website or making some delicious chocolate cake, it's just about the ability to give back," Giesler said.

As WBBM celebrates its 50th anniversary as Newsradio, this year we’ll be honoring 50 Newsmakers making a difference in the community.  Listen for reports each Tuesday.

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