A MONMOUTHSHIRE stroke survivor has helped develop a digital tool to help other survivors with communication difficulties – a resource that has been beneficial throughout lockdown.

Nick Cann, 57, lives in Chepstow with his wife Jo. The two are parents to Jemma, 25, Rhys, 24 and Bec, 22. He has severe aphasia and has been part of the Stroke Association’s group – and regularly attends the one in Cwmbran – which has created the ‘Getting online for people with aphasia’ resource.

Now is an important time to help support people with aphasia to get online. Lockdown has made more people rely on technology, but this will be a difficult time for people with aphasia who might be digitally isolated.

Mr Cann, who last year was awarded the BEM for raising over £120,000 for stroke charities, was 50 years old when he had his stroke in 2013. As the chief executive of the Institute of Financial Planning (IFP), he had just started a lecture on financial planning to students in Northampton when he collapsed and was rushed to the hospital.

South Wales Argus:

(Nick and Jo Cann)

When he was first in hospital, he was unable to move the right side of his body and had no speech. As chief executive, Nick’s job was centred on communicating or delivering a presentation.

“His speech was his job; his speech was his life. To lose that is cruel,” said Mrs Cann. “We didn’t know anything about stroke as a family, and never heard the term aphasia.”


Mr Cann describes his aphasia as a “broken connection”. His aphasia has impacted his speech, reading, and sometimes numbers. Full sentences are difficult, and he struggles with smaller words.

Before his stroke, Mr Cann was very tech-savvy but after, getting back online was difficult due to his aphasia. When he first started using technology again his children would sit down and practice with him.

South Wales Argus:

(Nick is now an avid user of technology and uses his smartphone, laptop and iPad to engage with people on WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram)

“It really is about practising and encouraging someone,” said Mrs Cann. “Repeating tasks, again and again, helped Nick. The more he did the better he got at doing it by himself.

“Nick’s speech and language therapists recommended some apps to Nick to help him communicate and practice speech activities at home”.

Last year he became a member of the Aphasia Digital Access Working Group at the Stroke Association which helped guide the development of the ‘Getting online for people with aphasia’ resource.

The group is made up of people with aphasia, researchers, and speech and language therapists who were able to share their insights and expertise. People with aphasia need to shape any guides or resources developed for them to ensure it meets their needs and is accessible.