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Improving Life After Stroke Award

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Proudly sponsored by Australian Physiotherapy Association

Improving Life After Stroke Award celebrates those who voluntarily dedicate their time to improving the care and support of stroke survivors in the community. This category is open to stroke survivors, carers, and volunteers who are making a big difference to the lives of survivors and raising awareness of their needs.

2021 Improving Life After Stroke Award Finalists

  • Brian Beh

    2021 Improving Life After Stroke Award Winner

    Since Brian was discharged from hospital following his stroke in August 2016, he has committed a lot of his time communicating with and educating various groups and stakeholders within the stroke industry about his journey. Brian is passionate about using his lived experience with stroke…

    Since Brian was discharged from hospital following his stroke in August 2016, he has committed a lot of his time communicating with and educating various groups and stakeholders within the stroke industry about his journey. Brian is passionate about using his lived experience with stroke to assist clinicians to improve their service delivery to other patients.  

    Where are you now on your stroke journey? 

    I, like many other stroke survivors, have a rehab plan which is never-ending. It is simply a fact we survivor accept.  

    Where am I? Well, I now walk the equivalent of 12- 13 kms per day, seven days a week and adhere to my specific rehab objectives. I can now tie my own shoelaces! I make sure I maintain healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  

    How have you helped educate people and survivors on stroke? 
    I take my role as a survivor of stroke and a stroke advocate seriously. I commit a lot of my time to communicating with and educating various groups/stakeholders about my journey, imparting my insights and learnings (which are based on my past life and business career experiences) pertaining to the rehabilitation process.

    What advice would you give a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke? 

    My advice would embrace the following points – 

    • Do not give up. There are many skilled clinicians who can help you recuperate. Do not hesitate to ask for help, the Stroke Foundation can provide you and your family a wide range of professional help.
    • Plan your rehab, set targets, make your plan quantifiable (measurable) so you can see your progress.  
    • Accept that your life and/or lifestyle may have changed, then proceed to make the most of your days!  
    • If you can get a rescue dog and start walking!  
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  • Bradley Butwell

    2021 Improving Life After Stroke Award Finalist

    Survivor of stroke, Dr Bradley Butwell, has been giving talks to his community for the past ten years.   Mainly lecturing on stroke prevention, recognising the F.A.S.T. (Face. Arms. Speech. Time) signs of stroke and the importance of immediate treatment, Dr Butwell draws upon his vast…

    Survivor of stroke, Dr Bradley Butwell, has been giving talks to his community for the past ten years.  

    Mainly lecturing on stroke prevention, recognising the F.A.S.T. (Face. Arms. Speech. Time) signs of stroke and the importance of immediate treatment, Dr Butwell draws upon his vast experience in stroke management from 44 years as a rural General Practitioner (GP) and his own stroke rehabilitation. Despite adversity, he has kept his keen sense of honour and is determined to continue this work.

    How has stroke changed your life?

    Drastically - for me and my wife. Before my stroke I was physically fit, a walking addict doing 40 -50km per week. I would have to say I was mentally burnt out after years of stress and constant hard work. We built a smaller home as the kids had all flown the coop, then started planning a series of overseas trips. Then in 2010, boom, my brain exploded and that was that.

    How have you helped educate people and survivors on stroke?

    Over the past eight years I have given numerous lectures and talks to service clubs, community groups, senior citizens, individuals etc. I am always willing to talk to people anytime, wherever. 

    What advice would you give a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke? 

    I would tell them to remain positive and patient. Remember recovery continues long after leaving hospital. It is OK to feel angry frustrated and depressed, as most of us do at some time, but if it gets out of hand see a GP or a psychologist. Try to look on the bright side of life. 

     

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  • Clive Kempson

    2021 Improving Life After Stroke Award Finalist

    Clive volunteers for a Melbourne health network, where he is a Consumer Advisor. Commencing the role four years after having his stroke, he has been advocating for systemic change in stroke treatment and care by meeting with state and federal MPs to share his experience…
    Clive volunteers for a Melbourne health network, where he is a Consumer Advisor. Commencing the role four years after having his stroke, he has been advocating for systemic change in stroke treatment and care by meeting with state and federal MPs to share his experience and show the need for increased funding and services. Clive proactively looks for opportunities to advise health professionals and advocate for change. He is also involved in a key research advisory panel.  

    How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey? 

    Stroke completely turned my world upside down, from working for myself and enjoying life to  being unable to work, an unknown future, divorce and some very dark times.  

    My recovery is ongoing as are my rehabilitation sessions. I am also involved in several committees and panels.   

    I have  connected with some amazing survivors, carers and professionals who inspire me daily to keep going. In turn, I try and improve things for future survivors.  

    What advice would you give a stroke survivor or someone that has recently suffered a stroke? 

    Never give up hope and ask lots of questions, however silly you think they are. Accept help and advice and set realistic goals that you can achieve. Goal setting is so important.  

    Be firm about understanding what has happened to you and how you can reduce the risks of any further events.  

    Ask for a written discharge plan and seek out other survivors who can help you navigate services available to you such as NDIS, Centrelink,  Companion Card etc.  
    Recovery is a slow road. You are in control of your progress by how much effort you put in. The therapists have so much knowledge and guidance to help you, but ultimately it is you who has to put in the effort.  

    Join online support groups and meet other survivors to hear their stories.  
      
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  • Mike Whittle

    2021 Improving Life After Stroke Award Finalist

    From his own experience, Mike saw the need for direct practical and emotional support for stroke survivors once they had returned home from hospital. Mike recognised the transition can be a frightening and disorientating, so he worked tirelessly to establish, maintain and lead the Hobart…
    From his own experience, Mike saw the need for direct practical and emotional support for stroke survivors once they had returned home from hospital. Mike recognised the transition can be a frightening and disorientating, so he worked tirelessly to establish, maintain and lead the Hobart Stroke Support Group. 

    How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey? 

    After two strokes and a heart attack, I commenced a rehabilitation journey focused on learning. Learning to read again, learning to remember again and learning to manage my emotions. An integral part of my stroke journey has been to appreciate my reliance on others, particularly fellow stroke survivors. We share our recovery journeys, we learn from each other and we support each other.  

    How have you helped educate people and survivors on stroke? 


    The most important contribution I can make is to share my experience of stroke. So, I volunteer as a StrokeSafe Ambassador with the amazing Tasmanian Stroke Foundation team. I deliver the life-saving message of how to recognise stroke and how to minimise risk.  

    I’m also part of a team that coordinates the Hobart Stroke Support Group. Members of the support group share their stroke journeys and learn from each other’s recovery experience. Most importantly, we understand and support each other.  

    We also collaborate with the Tasmanian community rehabilitation unit and the Tasmanian Stroke Foundation team to meet with people commencing rehabilitation after stroke. We explain the benefits of involvement in the support group and emphasize the value of learning from the recovery stories of fellow survivors.  

    What advice would you give a survivor of stroke? 

    I would encourage a stroke survivor to explore the Stroke Foundation’s website EnableMe. The section called My Stroke Journey is particularly useful for someone who has recently experienced stroke.  

    I would also encourage a stroke survivor to join a support group, where they can interact with fellow survivors and learn from the recovery experience of others who are on a similar journey.  
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  • Sean O’Brien

    2021 Improving Life After Stroke Award Finalist

    Sean suffered a stroke in 2013, which changed his life in many ways. The stroke had a major impact on Sean’s ability to communicate and he was not able to return to work. Determined to find a way to live well, Sean began the support…

    Sean suffered a stroke in 2013, which changed his life in many ways. The stroke had a major impact on Sean’s ability to communicate and he was not able to return to work. Determined to find a way to live well, Sean began the support group The Aphasia Awareness Delegation (TAAD) with two fellow survivors of stroke.  

    How has stroke changed your life and where are you now on your stroke journey? 

    I developed Aphasia as a result of my stroke.  I  lost the ability to write, have difficulty speaking clearly and process language slowly. It was a blow to my self-esteem when I was not able to go back to work. Fortunately, I was eventually referred to an incredible speech pathologist who helped me regain control of my life and encouraged me to use my lived experience to educate others about aphasia. Together we have spoken at   rotary groups, rehabilitation conferences, to groups of medical professionals, state and national aphasia conferences and a patient experience conference. I’ve also spoken to speech pathology and occupational therapy students and mentored other people with aphasia.  

    How have you helped educate people and survivors on stroke? 


    Get as much help as you can and share the journey with your loved ones and friends who can advocate for you and help you cope. It’s easy to stay home and lock yourself away, but this is the worst thing you can do. Take the advice of professionals and other stroke survivors, try different therapies, volunteer for research projects and ask for a second opinion if you’re not satisfied. It’s a long road to recovery but it’s worth the hard work.  

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