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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.

Improving Life After Stroke Award Winner & Finalists

Ron and Marge Townrow - Winner

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

Ron suffered a massive stroke, nineteen years ago. He was a fit 44 year old with no health problems. We lived in a remote rural area, running a family farm. After two weeks in acute care and ten weeks in rehab, we arrived home. Ron had to deal with extreme fatigue, learning to walk again, limited concentration span, left arm paralysis, pain in left arm and shoulder and general left side weakness.

This led to a complete lifestyle change for our family, Ron became very restricted in his capabilities and Marge became a carer and gave up her career. A stroke not only affects the survivor but the whole family. The farm was sold and we shifted closer to a regional city for medical services.

Nineteen years later, Ron is still dealing with many of the same problems, particularly the fatigue, frustration and doing things single handed. He has learnt to adapt.

How have you helped educate people and survivors on stroke?

Following a shift to the Bendigo region, we became involved in the Central Victorian Stroke Support Group and received great support, friendship and joined social activities. We realized how valuable this support was to us and as time moved on, it was our turn to provide this support to others. We have now taken on a leadership role in this group. We have continued to visit Stroke Survivors at both Bendigo Health and St John of God Hospitals. We are also involved in Health Forums and Committees as consumer reps at Bendigo Health.

The Bendigo Stroke Support Centre has been established in the last two years by the Stroke Association of Victoria. This gives support to those leaving rehab. Being aware of the “big black hole” when leaving the supported environment of rehab, going back to reality and then sorting out life after stroke, we have been enthusiastic in our support for the groups and activities provided by the Centre.

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

Think positive, be patient, never give up.
Life changes but grab at the positives.
For many survivors, Rehab is lifelong.
It is important to remain socially active.
Interaction with other stroke survivors within the Stroke Support Group and Stroke Support Centre is lifesaving, both in sharing information, support and a social life.

Dr Eleanor Horton

Priya Sharma

Priya

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

My stroke changed me completely and I think I have noticed that more so in the last few years. It has made me into a stronger, more determined and empathetic person. I feel like the stroke journey is never ending however I’m at a good stage in my recovery and take every day as it comes.

How have you helped educate people and survivors on stroke?

Because of my experience, I am determined to better the lives of other stroke survivors - in ways big or small. I feel that by sharing my experience to date it helps people know that they are not alone and provides them with information that they may not have gotten elsewhere. Since becoming involved with Stroke Foundation, I have become a StrokeSafe Ambassador and I volunteer as much as I can for talks, media releases etc to help spread the word. I am connected with other stroke survivors where we share knowledge and resources with each other. I also try to share as much of my story and the F.A.S.T message on my own social media.

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

It gets better, It takes time and patience, and requires you to take charge of your own recovery. Stay positive and set realistic goals and steps for your recovery. Believe you can get through this and you will. A positive mindset is everything. Keep people around you that will support you 100 percent. Rest as much as you can whilst recovering because your body needs it.

Brian Arthur Beh

Brian

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

Since I sustained my Left Lacunar Stroke in April 2016, my life and lifestyle have undergone dramatic changes.

Prior to the stroke I engaged in what could only be described as “high-risk behaviours’: e.g. smoking, poor diet, lack of any form of meaningful exercise; high levels of stress and total ignorance of my Blood Pressure (BP) and cholesterol levels.

Now I have either eliminated or minimised these negative behaviours: e.g. stopped smoking {the night I sustained my stroke;] enjoy a stroke friendly diet; exercise regularly and have my BP checked on a monthly basis.

I am also more relaxed and at peace with the world.

Where am I now on my journey? - My journey is never ending. The stroke has focused me on living a good life; healthy and hopefully risk-free.

I have learnt to appreciate my ‘second chance’.

How have you helped educate people and survivors on stroke?

Since 2016 I have addressed Final Year Physio students at the Australian Catholic University, North Sydney on my stroke, my rehab journey and my insights and learnings. My next lecture is scheduled for 20 April 2020.

I am also a regular contributor to Twitter on matters pertaining to stroke survivors and their rehab.

I have been able to utilise my corporate experience to provide input into service delivery and building rapport/relationships between clinicians and stroke survivors.

In addition, I have participated in various research projects on strokes providing input from a survivor’s point of view.

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

It is difficult to give ONE message to all stroke survivors because of the individual nature of each stroke. However, my message is -STAY POSITIVE- take advantage of the skills of the clinicians that surround you; draw strength from your family and set your mind to achieving your rehab plan.

Shannon Nelson

Shannon

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

Stroke has changed my life in profound way. You realise when you have a stroke how precious life is and I don’t life for granted anymore. I don’t sweat the small stuff. I’m back at work full-time, I’m attending singing lessons once a week, this helps with my aphasia and verbal dyspraxia, also I’m doing speech therapy once a fortnight and about to start occupational therapy in April. I went also my first overseas holiday last year to Cambodia.

How have you helped educate people and survivors on stroke?

Since I have my stroke I’ve told my story to anyone who will listen. Last year I was asked by the stroke foundation to speak at their annual staff to tell my story. I also spoke last year at High Tea held by Christine & Patrick Quinlan to raise awareness of stroke and my journey so far. I became a stroke safe speaker in June and have done 3 talks so far. It was privilege to be asked by the stroke foundation to be on the House of Wellness in September and Channel 7 News in December. On House of Wellness they asked me to tell my story, and they showed a video that did in 2018 about Aphasia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yLYq7bNMiQ&fbclid=IwAR31VH1rnAH-_1sgzDQ9DLjR3ACMpOZ0MoeqhUKdA-kZdQVF-X39Vzzd3KY.

I was also asked last year by Wantirna Health to speak about my patient experience through my stroke journey. My family & I held High Cheese during stroke week last to raise awareness and funds for the stroke foundation. My Neighbour’s husband a stroke last year, she recognized his straight away, because what happened to me. She attributes me harping on about FAST message as why she recognized the immediately and called 000. My son, Sean made documentary in 2019 about my stroke: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrQ0I7O1HLo&fbclid=IwAR0yPfQlG93yZUx2QvDXYTVpEU4hroKvug3CVx3DDx8SvYwqJTrzPBPI1ts

I have also been actively involved in petitoning both federal and state governments on behalf of the stroke foundation increase funding in state and federal elections.

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

I would say never give up, accept help and set goals. Rely on other’s people knowledge to make informed decisions. I will be forever grateful for the care I have received from many doctors, professors, nurses, allied health assistants, speech pathologist and occupational therapists. I don’t if I could have got through this almost the 2 years without the love and support of my family and friends.

Ron and Marge Townrow - Winner

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

Ron suffered a massive stroke, nineteen years ago. He was a fit 44 year old with no health problems. We lived in a remote rural area, running a family farm. After two weeks in acute care and ten weeks in rehab, we arrived home. Ron had to deal with extreme fatigue, learning to walk again, limited concentration span, left arm paralysis, pain in left arm and shoulder and general left side weakness.

This led to a complete lifestyle change for our family, Ron became very restricted in his capabilities and Marge became a carer and gave up her career. A stroke not only affects the survivor but the whole family. The farm was sold and we shifted closer to a regional city for medical services.

Nineteen years later, Ron is still dealing with many of the same problems, particularly the fatigue, frustration and doing things single handed. He has learnt to adapt.

How have you helped educate people and survivors on stroke?

Following a shift to the Bendigo region, we became involved in the Central Victorian Stroke Support Group and received great support, friendship and joined social activities. We realized how valuable this support was to us and as time moved on, it was our turn to provide this support to others. We have now taken on a leadership role in this group. We have continued to visit Stroke Survivors at both Bendigo Health and St John of God Hospitals. We are also involved in Health Forums and Committees as consumer reps at Bendigo Health.

The Bendigo Stroke Support Centre has been established in the last two years by the Stroke Association of Victoria. This gives support to those leaving rehab. Being aware of the “big black hole” when leaving the supported environment of rehab, going back to reality and then sorting out life after stroke, we have been enthusiastic in our support for the groups and activities provided by the Centre.

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

Think positive, be patient, never give up.
Life changes but grab at the positives.
For many survivors, Rehab is lifelong.
It is important to remain socially active.
Interaction with other stroke survivors within the Stroke Support Group and Stroke Support Centre is lifesaving, both in sharing information, support and a social life.

Dr Eleanor Horton

Priya Sharma

Priya

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

My stroke changed me completely and I think I have noticed that more so in the last few years. It has made me into a stronger, more determined and empathetic person. I feel like the stroke journey is never ending however I’m at a good stage in my recovery and take every day as it comes.

How have you helped educate people and survivors on stroke?

Because of my experience, I am determined to better the lives of other stroke survivors - in ways big or small. I feel that by sharing my experience to date it helps people know that they are not alone and provides them with information that they may not have gotten elsewhere. Since becoming involved with Stroke Foundation, I have become a StrokeSafe Ambassador and I volunteer as much as I can for talks, media releases etc to help spread the word. I am connected with other stroke survivors where we share knowledge and resources with each other. I also try to share as much of my story and the F.A.S.T message on my own social media.

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

It gets better, It takes time and patience, and requires you to take charge of your own recovery. Stay positive and set realistic goals and steps for your recovery. Believe you can get through this and you will. A positive mindset is everything. Keep people around you that will support you 100 percent. Rest as much as you can whilst recovering because your body needs it.

Brian Arthur Beh

Brian

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

Since I sustained my Left Lacunar Stroke in April 2016, my life and lifestyle have undergone dramatic changes.

Prior to the stroke I engaged in what could only be described as “high-risk behaviours’: e.g. smoking, poor diet, lack of any form of meaningful exercise; high levels of stress and total ignorance of my Blood Pressure (BP) and cholesterol levels.

Now I have either eliminated or minimised these negative behaviours: e.g. stopped smoking {the night I sustained my stroke;] enjoy a stroke friendly diet; exercise regularly and have my BP checked on a monthly basis.

I am also more relaxed and at peace with the world.

Where am I now on my journey? - My journey is never ending. The stroke has focused me on living a good life; healthy and hopefully risk-free.

I have learnt to appreciate my ‘second chance’.

How have you helped educate people and survivors on stroke?

Since 2016 I have addressed Final Year Physio students at the Australian Catholic University, North Sydney on my stroke, my rehab journey and my insights and learnings. My next lecture is scheduled for 20 April 2020.

I am also a regular contributor to Twitter on matters pertaining to stroke survivors and their rehab.

I have been able to utilise my corporate experience to provide input into service delivery and building rapport/relationships between clinicians and stroke survivors.

In addition, I have participated in various research projects on strokes providing input from a survivor’s point of view.

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

It is difficult to give ONE message to all stroke survivors because of the individual nature of each stroke. However, my message is -STAY POSITIVE- take advantage of the skills of the clinicians that surround you; draw strength from your family and set your mind to achieving your rehab plan.

Shannon Nelson

Shannon

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

Stroke has changed my life in profound way. You realise when you have a stroke how precious life is and I don’t life for granted anymore. I don’t sweat the small stuff. I’m back at work full-time, I’m attending singing lessons once a week, this helps with my aphasia and verbal dyspraxia, also I’m doing speech therapy once a fortnight and about to start occupational therapy in April. I went also my first overseas holiday last year to Cambodia.

How have you helped educate people and survivors on stroke?

Since I have my stroke I’ve told my story to anyone who will listen. Last year I was asked by the stroke foundation to speak at their annual staff to tell my story. I also spoke last year at High Tea held by Christine & Patrick Quinlan to raise awareness of stroke and my journey so far. I became a stroke safe speaker in June and have done 3 talks so far. It was privilege to be asked by the stroke foundation to be on the House of Wellness in September and Channel 7 News in December. On House of Wellness they asked me to tell my story, and they showed a video that did in 2018 about Aphasia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7yLYq7bNMiQ&fbclid=IwAR31VH1rnAH-_1sgzDQ9DLjR3ACMpOZ0MoeqhUKdA-kZdQVF-X39Vzzd3KY.

I was also asked last year by Wantirna Health to speak about my patient experience through my stroke journey. My family & I held High Cheese during stroke week last to raise awareness and funds for the stroke foundation. My Neighbour’s husband a stroke last year, she recognized his straight away, because what happened to me. She attributes me harping on about FAST message as why she recognized the immediately and called 000. My son, Sean made documentary in 2019 about my stroke: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrQ0I7O1HLo&fbclid=IwAR0yPfQlG93yZUx2QvDXYTVpEU4hroKvug3CVx3DDx8SvYwqJTrzPBPI1ts

I have also been actively involved in petitoning both federal and state governments on behalf of the stroke foundation increase funding in state and federal elections.

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

I would say never give up, accept help and set goals. Rely on other’s people knowledge to make informed decisions. I will be forever grateful for the care I have received from many doctors, professors, nurses, allied health assistants, speech pathologist and occupational therapists. I don’t if I could have got through this almost the 2 years without the love and support of my family and friends.