The Cabrillo College Stroke Center...

is a unique and highly successful educationally-based, post-acute rehabilitation program serving disabled students attending Cabrillo Community College. Located off-campus, about ten minutes from the main Cabrillo site on the edge of a large public park overlooking the ocean, it provides a peaceful, pleasant setting that is conducive to both healing and learning.

The Center was designed to address the needs of physically limited adults and their caregivers on a longterm basis. Throughout the nation there are untold numbers of people living with severe, long term physical disabilities who are unemployed, living in nursing homes, in the back room of an adult child’s home, or in board and care homes. Two-thirds of these people have had disabling strokes; others have Parkinson's disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Post-polio Syndrome, brain and spinal trauma, and/or rheumatoid, degenerative arthritis.

Traditional methods of rehabilitation have not succeeded in preparing these people to integrate into family and community life. Rehabilitation methods required to help disabled people reach and maintain their highest potential and a reasonable quality of life are currently not affordable or readily available.

Most have been through the rehabilitation process, and have exhausted Medicare, Medical, Veterans, and insurance benefits, as well as personal resources. They typically are depressed, passive, and accepting of the fact that there is no place for them in society. Their families are exhausted.

These needs were expressed locally some thirty years ago and gave rise to a grassroots community-wide movement to create a new method of delivering rehabilitation services. The Cabrillo College Stroke and Acquired Disability Center was the result of this effort. It has flourished and developed ever since. The strength of this model is demonstrated daily by the success and relief expressed by participants. The fact that the fundamentals of the model have remained virtually unchanged in three decades of growth and development is a testament to its power.

At the Center, students receive rehabilitative services based on an educational rather than a traditional medical model. Three decades of success have shown this to be a singular and innovative response to the negative impact on long-term rehabilitation wrought by our nation’s health care crisis. When compared to similar services throughout the health care system, the Center’s model provides a remarkably low-cost, high-benefit approach to serving its targeted population. The program is a model of cost-constraint and has remained outside the inflationary spiral that has driven health care costs to their current high levels.

The program is similar to a medically based rehabilitation program in staffing patterns, but markedly different in its approach to service. The program is staffed by Cabrillo College instructors who are both medically licensed and educationally credentialed specialists in speech pathology, physical therapy, occupational therapy and counseling.

Those who attend the program are not patients with the passivity that word implies. They are students—active assertive participants in the learning process. The typical student is a stable, mature adult who has survived some of life's most demanding experiences. They bring to the classroom a special quality of determination and persistence. Students are active in setting their educational goals, suggesting curriculum additions and changes, and above all, providing an unparalleled level of peer interaction and support.

Students range in age from 18-85 years with most students in their seventies. Students come to the program with a wide variety of severe disabling conditions including post-stroke, vision impairments, Parkinson's Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, post-polio, and traumatic head and spinal cord injuries.

During a typical school year, over 200 students attend classes chosen among 40 different course offerings. Classes are carefully developed utilizing educational methodologies and instructional technologies in place of clinical therapeutic strategies.

The Center also serves as a teaching facility by Cabrillo’s career education for nursing and allied health programs. It is also a popular intern site for the University of California, San Jose State University and the California State University at Monterey Bay. The local adult education job training programs, especially those for nursing assistants use the Center for observation of the rehabilitation process. Those who are interested in careers in physical and occupational therapy frequently use the Center to obtain the necessary volunteer hours required to apply to these professional programs.

Funding for the program comes from a variety of sources including categorical state money reserved for the education of individuals with disabilities, local government grants, and private donors. Federal money was provided in 2001 to establish the Center as a national demonstration project.

Since its founding, the Center has been the recipient of numerous honors and commendations including twice being named as the Outstanding Community Service Program in the County.

The Stroke Center provides a model of community college education at its best. It serves an important segment of the community that wants and needs a vital and meaningful educational program to improve not only their individual quality of life, but also the overall quality of life of the community as a whole. The Cabrillo College Stroke and Acquired Disability Center has dramatically demonstrated that within the process and profession of education are the seeds of unique and refreshing solutions to some current social challenges that before were thought to be the sole province of medicine and the health care industry.

Overview l Mission l Contrast With Medical Model

We are grateful to Congressman Sam Farr and the US Department of Education,
Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation for the funding support that made this website possible.