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3-time survivor helps stroke patients recover through art therapy

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Visitors to the Carnegie Library in Oakland are greeted with paintings of colorful tulips — artwork that is inspirational on many levels.

Alessandra Crivelli created the project as her college thesis. It’s called “All in One Stroke: The Regrowth of Life,” and it features paintings by stroke survivors.

“When I was 17, I had a brain bleed from an AVM — arteriovenous malformation,” she said.

Crivelli is a three-time survivor. She was on life support, needing an emergency craniotomy and grueling physical therapy to learn how to walk, talk and write again.

“It was just upsetting to have to re-learn something that you learned when you were that age of 4 or 5,” she said.

Her remarkable recovery influenced Crivelli to study art therapy.

Now, at the UPMC aneurysm support group, she has helped others in their recovery and the coping process.

“I wanted it to be shared with people who are similar that have needs and had bleeds similar to mine,” she said.

Dr. Brian Jankowitz, a neurosurgeon at UPMC, says coming together in a family-like setting is vital to the recovery process.

“They give each other hope, inspiring one another to get better, really, with practical ways to adapt back to life,” he said.

Members of the group are on similar journeys. They understand and rely on one another.

“I can’t see my life without it. I look forward to meeting every month,” Crivelli said. “It’s so fun and, like, it’s just family.”

Her life and career will continue to help patients achieve their goals in recovery. A recent graduate of Robert Morris University, Crivelli is taking classes on the way to a Master’s degree in counseling and art therapy.

Culled from WTAE.

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