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7 celebrities who have dealt with aphasia in inspiring ways

“Game of Thrones” star Emilia Clarke struggled with aphasia after having an aneurysm. She later started a charity helping survivors of stroke and brain injury.

emilia clarke

Emilia Clarke.

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Shortly after finishing filming season one of “Game of Thrones,” Clarke had an aneurysm while working out with her trainer. 

“My trainer had me get into the plank position, and I immediately felt as though an elastic band was squeezing my brain. I tried to ignore the pain and push through it, but I just couldn’t,” she wrote in an essay for The New Yorker, published in 2019. “At some level, I knew what was happening: my brain was damaged.”

After Clarke was sent for an MRI, she was told she had suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH), a life-threatening type of stroke caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain.

After having surgery to seal off the aneurysm, Clarke fearfully realized her language was impaired.

“One night, after I’d passed that crucial mark, a nurse woke me and, as part of a series of cognitive exercises, she said, ‘What’s your name?’ My full name is Emilia Isobel Euphemia Rose Clarke. But now I couldn’t remember it,” the actress wrote. “Instead, nonsense words tumbled out of my mouth and I went into a blind panic. I’d never experienced fear like that—a sense of doom closing in. I could see my life ahead, and it wasn’t worth living. I am an actor; I need to remember my lines. Now I couldn’t recall my name.”

She returned to the ICU and the aphasia passed after about a week.

“I was able to speak,” she wrote. “I knew my name—all five bits. But I was also aware that there were people in the beds around me who didn’t make it out of the I.C.U. I was continually reminded of just how fortunate I was.”

She went on to launch Same You, a charity that helps survivors of stroke and brain injury.