“I was asleep and I woke up and I said, ‘Oh no.'”

Tom Bradfield and his wife, Marina, were headed back from vacation when Tom suffered his second stroke in two years. 

The first was minor — after a week’s worth of recovery, Tom was back at work. The second, however, had devastating effects on Tom’s speech and movement.

That is until Tom and Marina found a stroke support group at Inova Loudoun Hospital, which meets once a month. Four years ago, the group hosted Tom Sweitzer of A Place to Be, a music therapy nonprofit.

Sweitzer presented about the positive effects of music therapy on stroke survivors, and the participants were hooked. Using rhythm and upbeat music, Sweitzer is helping 25 to 30 survivors learn to speak again. Twice a week, the group rents a room at Shenandoah University to practice, thanks to the philanthropy of the Wheeler Family Foundation and the Claude Moore Charitable Foundation.

“Science is proving that we have the ability to sing before we speak. The very first connection we have to the outer world is with sound. They’re looking for that connection again,” said Sweitzer. 

The Bradfields only joined the choir a year ago, but the differences are huge. “First I thought it would be just bringing Tom to sing and him having the time for himself and me, maybe having the time to myself, but I look forward to it just as much,” said Marina.

This May, Different Strokes for Different Folks is hosting its concert, Disco Fever! at The Hill School in Middleburg. Tom Bradfield will be performing his first solo. One year ago, it seemed impossible. Marina said this year, Tom was ready. 

To join or inquire about other A Place to Be services, visit their website.