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College Sweethearts Overcome Aphasia Together

College Sweethearts Overcome Aphasia Together

College Sweethearts Overcome Aphasia Together

Sara Culver studied to obtain her master’s degree in mathematics at Baylor University in the 1980s. Her brother’s roommate, Tim, also attended Baylor to pursue a master’s in engineering. When Sara began tutoring Tim in math, the two quickly became friends and eventually started dating. Tim proposed shortly after graduation, and they were married on December 23, 1985. 38 years later, Sara and Tim remain married with four children and love to travel the world together. But the Culvers have one unique thing in common: Sara and Tim both live with aphasia.

In May 2004, Sara experienced a stroke at the age of 42 that impaired the right side of her body and caused severe aphasia. When doctors recommended that Sara enter a nursing home for long-term care, Tim began his own research of strokes to find the right care for her. Because of Tim’s advocacy, Sara found her way to the Centre for Neuro Skills’ (CNS) Dallas clinic for neurorehabilitation treatment. Through CNS’ in-patient program, Sara learned how to walk again, excelled in all areas of education, and made large improvements in her speech.

Upon discharge from CNS, Sara had to learn how to drive again using a left-footed gas pedal car. She also returned to her former job working as a mathematics tutor at Eastfield College in the school’s Learning Assistance Center. Sara had returned to her life of independence, managing household tasks and driving herself to and from work.

In 2009, Tim published a book that details their experience, titled Sara’s Story: One Family’s Faith Through Unthinkable Trial. “Our children have their mother back home, I have my wife back, and many students have Sara back in their lives to help them with their mathematics,” said Tim.

CNS Patient Sara and husband, TimOver the past 20 years, Tim has learned how to be a caregiver for his wife and modified their home to fit Sara’s lifestyle. Tim utilized his engineering skills to adapt Sara’s electric wheelchair and the kitchen cupboards, add an entrance ramp, and invent several other tools to assist with Sara’s disabilities.

In October 2021, the Culvers experienced yet another unthinkable incident. Tim was diagnosed with COVID-19, and he developed balance issues that resulted in a fall. After being rushed to the hospital, Tim was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and learned he had also developed aphasia. Although the two had persevered through Sara’s diagnosis, Sara was extremely worried about how this would impact her husband, given her own experience with a brain injury.

Nonetheless, Tim was determined to overcome his speech impediments. “Sara is the example I try to follow,” he says. Through speech and physical therapy, Tim has regained most of his capabilities and returned to his normal daily life. He retired in October 2022.

Now, the Culvers enjoy traveling and spending time with one another. Through the Aphasia Recovery Connection, they have met several others living with aphasia and embarked on cruises around the world with this community. As Sara continues to work part-time, Tim is grateful to enjoy a slower-paced lifestyle with his wife. Living by example, the Culvers continue to spread awareness and education on aphasia and stroke recovery.