Stroke survivor shows the way to independence

The Eileen Berke Occupational Therapy Center at Cincinnati State provides students with a one-of-a-kind learning opportunity — students can try out interactive demonstrations of the experiences of those with disabilities and those who choose to age in place.
And it’s all thanks to Eileen Berke, whom the OT Center is named after, who donated the home after spending two years under the care of Claudia Miller, Cincinnati State’s occupational therapy assistant program chair, while Berke was recovering from a stroke.
“I wasn’t able to talk, I wasn’t able to walk," Berke said. "I wasn’t able to use my right hand, and therapy helped. It turned my life around."
Since the stroke 11 years ago, Berke has visited Miller's class to engage students in mock scenarios and answer questions.
“I pretended to fall on the steps,” Berke said. “The students have to know how to pick someone up.”
The OT Center —  which sits directly across from Cincinnati State’s Clifton campus — is equipped with a sensory room that's designed to assist those with processing disorders and autism, modified rooms and equipment, and a hands-free environmental control system.
“They have all the things you need,” Berke said. “They have a computer that talks, bathroom facilities — they made it really usable for anyone who wants to stay in their homes.”
In addition to serving as a space for lab and lectures, the vision for the OT Center is to open it to the community so caregivers and their loved ones can see and experience the various technologies and assistive devices to provide a sense of independence.
“I had a nurse with me everywhere for two years," Berke said. "I couldn’t stand it any longer. I took therapy and told my children I could do it. And now I drive everywhere by myself."

Do Good: 

•    Contact the Cincinnati State Foundation if you would like to help expand the work of the OT Center by making a financial contribution.

•    Learn more about Cincinnati State's Occupational Therapy Assistant program. 

•    Keep up with all the latest Cincinnati State news by following its Facebook page.

Read more articles by Brittany York.

Brittany York is a freelance writer, adjunct English composition instructor and server at Orchids at Palm Court. She loves travel and photography. Keep up with Brittany on Instagram @brittbrittbrittbrittany.
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