A stroke is a serious life-threatening medical condition that happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.
Strokes are a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential.
The sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.
If you suspect that you or someone else is having a stroke, phone 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.
Stroke Awareness Presentation (March 2023)
hello and welcome to this stroke Association stroke awareness session
my name is Josh Murphy and I’m the stroke knowledge development lead at the stroke Association and I’m delighted to
have this opportunity to deliver this stroke awareness session to you today
so what can you expect from today’s session we’ll Begin by looking at who the stroke Association are
and then we’ll look at what a stroke even is and the different types of stroke before looking at how we can help to
recognize if someone might be having a stroke using What’s called the fast test
well then look at how you can reduce your likelihood of having a stroke so stroke prevention followed by the
effects of stroke and then later on we’ll be hearing from Danny someone with lived experience of
stroke and then finally we’ll look at how you can take action on stroke
so we are the stroke Association the stroke Association is the UK’s leading
stroke charity and our vision is for there to be fewer strokes and for
people affected by stroke to get the help they need to live the best life they can we’re here to support people to rebuild
their lives after stroke and believe that all stroke survivors deserve to live the best life they can
so what do we do we provide specialist support fund critical research and campaign to
make sure people affected by stroke get the very best care and support to rebuild their lives
but this is a team effort it takes the determination of stroke survivors and carers the generosity of supporters and
volunteers and the dedication of the healthcare and research communities to get there too
the work we do would not be possible without our amazing volunteers and
fundraisers who work locally and nationally to raise awareness of stroke and much needed funds to support stroke
survivors so I’ve got a video I’m going to play
for you now which will give you a little bit more of an idea as to the specialist support we
provide at the stroke Association our Support Services help hundreds of
thousands of people through one of the most frightening experiences of their lives and it’s our services that can help
people affected by stroke rebuild their life after stroke our information is based on accurate and
up-to-date evidence and we ask stroke survivors and their families as well as medical experts to
help us when putting our information together it was just it was a nightmare
I thought that there is nothing on Earth that’s gonna it’s gonna Rectify this
it’s going to make this better good sometimes I feel that I’m in my own way
own well my own world while everyone else is moving on
when a stroke strikes Life Changes instantly
and Recovery is tough I’m tired I’m really really tired
it may feel like you’re all alone after a stroke but you’re not
we’re here for you a familiar person on the other side of
the phone can make a big problem go away
we are here to give a little bit of extra help and support to help people
along to rebuild their daily life and go forward if you or someone you care about has had
a stroke we’re here to help you get the support and information you need to rebuild your lives
just take it one step at a time you’re not the only one that’ll experience things like that we’re right behind you
stroke researchers fundraisers
our stroke helpline officers it is possible to come back from stroke
it does take a long time for me it took a long time but it is possible
I believe you can do it stand up and don’t give up whatever you want to do
you don’t actually realize how strong you are and how resilient and determined
that you can be until you really really need us
[Music] we’ve seen thousands of people adapt to
a new life after stroke and so can you
visit stroke.org dot UK to find out how we could help you or your loved one make
the best possible recovery okay I hope you enjoyed that video and
that gave you a bit more of an idea a bit more of a flavor of what we do at the stroke Association
so let’s hear about the uh critical research the stroke Association funds as
well for over 30 years we’ve supported vital research by investing nearly 60 million in stroke research that has
covered all areas related to stroke treatment and care care this is Ronnie a
stroke survivor who’s been helped by the research we funded into stroke treatment you’ll also see Dr Emily Cena one of the
researchers we fund we’ll hear about Ronnie’s story and why our research is so vital to stroke survivors
I absolutely felt like I was dying I was making peace with that and I chose
to die peacefully [Music] without the stroke associations research
I wouldn’t be stood here at this bench talking to you now
on Christmas Eve 2018 I’d gone to the gym I started getting a pain about an
inch above my right eye and and then became quite confused and disorientated and it turned out I was having a stroke
got an ambulance to Lincoln County Hospital and that gave me a thrombolysis
and then it didn’t look like that was going to be enough so I got an ambulance to Nottingham where I then had a
or slot removal so a device enters a blood vessel and then retrieves the clot
and then restores blood flow to that area it’s a very surreal somewhat frightened
experience but at the same time a quite a special feeling to go in there
paralyzed in my entire left side and then during the operation feel that come
back to me and actually leave the operating table fully able to move at my
left side within a match of those 20 odd minutes I feel like that is due to the
stroke association’s research I’ve been in straight for search for a number of years and I will never forget
the thrombectomy trials describing their results and the atmosphere just being in
that room and hearing these positive results and knowing that there was a therapy that could help with a major breakthrough
Research into new stroke treatments has just been a lifesaver for me without
such research it’s already been a completely different outcome the covert pandemic has had a huge
impact on stroke research the stroke associations research budget
is cut in half China stroke Association are just receiving fewer donations people are still having great ideas but
without the resources it’s very difficult to make that happen I do believe sadly that lives will be
lost if if the research doesn’t continue so I would advise anyone to donate to
them I think the most difficult thing for for researchers
you know we’ve seen with covid when people come together we could do
wonderful things wonderful things and it would have fewer strokes and for those who experience
stroke they will be able to rebuild their lives and have much better outcomes it’s possible
but it requires that investment
moving on to campaigning then we campaign to prevent stroke and improve the treatment and care that
stroke survivors receive and we do this in three key ways by making sure governments and Senior
Health decision makers know about stroke and see it as a priority that it’s worth attention and investment
by working with local and National NHS systems to change policy in the ways that will most benefit people affected
by stroke and we enable the public people affected by stroke and our supporters to campaign
for improvements to stroke care locally when people bring their own views
experiences skills expertise and connections to our campaigns we can have
the most impact so let’s run through
the support we provide to people affected by stroke at the stroke Association
our person-centered emotional communication and rehabilitation services help people to move forward
after one of the most frightening experiences of their lives our stroke Recovery Services provide
practical information emotional support and high quality information following a
stroke we also offer specialist communication support services and work with stroke
survivors who are living with communication difficulties such as Aphasia which is a language problem
following a stroke we build and connect stroke communities
our uk-wide network of stroke groups play a vital role in the recovery of stroke survivors
and we also connect stroke professionals and Leaders with stroke communities to make sure their work is informed by
people with lived experience of stroke
before the covid-19 pandemic we knew that 45 of stroke survivors felt
abandoned when they left Hospital and social distancing and early Hospital discharge left new stroke survivors more
alone and in need of more support than ever in response to the pandemic we rapidly
developed new support services and Innovations to help meet the most pressing needs of stroke survivors
these include stroke Association connect and here for you
so let’s hear about stroke Association connect first and foremost so we worked with the NHS to launch
stroke Association connect which was a brand new service that was made available in June 2020 providing stroke
survivors with personal specialized support information and reassurance in the early days following Hospital
discharge our hair for you service though is a
volunteer-run telephone support service to help stroke survivors who are feeling lonely or isolated
we connect stroke survivors and carers to train volunteers to offer support following a stroke and
to help combat feelings of isolation which is sadly all too common amongst the stroke community
our helpline supports stroke survivors and their families and carers by providing a place to get information
about stroke services and to be heard and talk through their situation
and each year in the UK approximately 400 children have a stroke changing the
lives of them and their families in an instant while our childhood stroke support offer is provided by members of
a dedicated team who will be available to support parents with practical information on a wide range of topics
answers to questions and emotional support at any stage in their Journey post-stroke
the team will also be able to support people with questions and queries
that perhaps other people or professionals might have such as the wider family members and teachers as
well my stroke guide is our online self-management tool that gives people
free access to trusted information to anyone who wants it about different types of stroke risk factors
and secondary conditions as well as advice on prevention and improving your own health
my Straight guide has practical tools and over 200 videos to help understand stroke and manage its effects
this includes a dedicated section for family and friends which provides information on the impact of stroke and
advice about supporting loved ones in addition to the helpline and my
stroke guide our Publications so our leaflets and fact sheets provide accurate and accessible health
information for stroke survivors carers friends and family and we provide detailed health
information on a range of stroke related topics based on the latest research and we involve experts and stroke survivors
in reviews finally our website also provides a
wealth of information to support stroke survivors across the world
so I’ve got another video for you now are rebuilding lives campaign is changing the way people think about
stroke using stroke survivors real stories so I was in work it was a Friday
there was my seventh birthday party there’s something not right and I start to panic my mind was not coming together
I can’t move my right hand side massive shot explosion my brain fell out thought
I would die in my body drain and then I disappeared who woke up and everything will spin it
the light was like needles your life isn’t it trap
over time it’s getting better hopefully some of these fingers might work again every day is a challenge you
need that extra support to get you through I am baz I’m Paul
I’m Luna I’m a stroke survivor I am a stroke survivor I’m Alicia
and I’m a stroke survivor
so hopefully that highlighted to you that stroke can happen to anyone Max Alicia and Paul are all stroke survivors
it is important to remember that stroke can happen to anyone of any age at any time
in the UK somebody has a stroke every five minutes although it’s more common in older
people are having Strokes earlier in their lives around one in four strokes happen
to people of a working age or under the age of 65. babies children and young
people can have strokes too and as we’ve already heard there are over 400 chartered Strokes in the UK each year
so what actually is a stroke a stroke is a Brain Attack
it’s an interruption of blood supply within the brain and that Interruption can be either a
blockage or a bleed but they’re both Strokes because they’re both interruptions are blood supply
within the brain and they both cause cell damage or cell death within the brain actually killing off brain cells
damage to the brain can affect how the body works it can also change how you think and feel
the effects of a stroke very much depend on where it takes place in the brain and how big the area of damage is
so let’s take each of our two different types of stroke in turn ischemic versus
hemorrhagic and then we’ll look at something called a mini stroke or Tia
transient ischemic attack first up then
ischemic type Strokes these are caused by a blockage cutting
off the blood supply to the brain you may also hear it referred to as a clot in ischemic stroke the blockage can be
caused by a blood clot forming in an artery leading to the brain or within one of the small vessels deep inside the
brain this is the most common type of stroke a hemorrhagic type stroke is caused by
bleeding in or around the brain you may also hear it called a brain hemorrhage or a brain bleed
hemorrhagic stroke tends to affect younger people and is more common in people aged
between 45 and 70. whereas actually most Strokes in the UK happen in people over
the age of 70. so that’s our ischemic and hemorrhagic
type Strokes what about tias or mini strokes
a transient ischemic attack is the same as an ischemic type stroke but the
symptoms last a short time and should fully resolve within 24 hours you get stroke-like symptoms because a
clot is blocking off blood supply within the brain but when that clout moves away the
stroke symptoms usually resolve having a TIA is a warning that you’re at
risk of having an actual stroke the risk is greatest in the first days and weeks after a TIA
so you urgently need to find out what caused it and get advice and treatment to help you stay healthy and reduce the
likelihood of you having an actual stroke so having a TIA is a major sign that you
have a much higher than normal risk of having an actual stroke
okay hopefully I’ve explained that well enough but like an excellent video for you now
which should hopefully just kind of recap on what I’ve explained and tell you a little bit more about the effects
and impact of stroke on those affected what is a stroke
what happened to me changed everything it changed the way I think the way I
move and what I’m able to do I’d had a stroke an ischemic stroke
it’s the most common type where a blockage cuts off the blood flow and oxygen to your brain
part of my brain had just shut down as a result [Music]
there is another type hemorrhagic stroke caused by bleeding in the brain [Music]
any stroke can be life-changing and it can happen to anyone of any age [Music]
stroke affects everyone in different ways for me it was my sight my speech
and weakness on the right side of my body I lost part of my vision
talking became hard because I just couldn’t find the words to describe things and I struggled to walk more than
a few steps I was so exhausted all the time with
just no energy to do normal everyday stuff remembering things and concentrating
became almost impossible and I couldn’t read much or even write
my own name it was really scary and confusing
and even though I had my family I felt lost and alone
what had all these questions like will it happen again will I get better and will I be able to work or earn money
everything was up in the air my family was sick with worry and their lives changed in an instant
it was really hard for them once I knew more about what had happened
I began to see a way through it with help over time your brain rewires
Itself by making new connections knowing that I could get back most of my
old self was what kept me going recovery is hard but each month each
year things improve now I can have conversations with my family and I’m going for walks again
I’m not alone the stroke Association helps me and my family to adapt and understand things
life might not be the same I might not be exactly the same as before but you and your family can
rebuild your lives it’s like getting used to the new you
the stroke Association rebuilding lives after stroke
so let’s talk about the fastest the tool we can use to help recognize if someone might be having a stroke
so if you suspect a stroke even if symptoms pass do the fastest and always
call 999 but what does fast mean
first up we have faiths or facial weakness their face fallen on one side
can they smile arm weakness can they raise both arms
and keep them there perhaps you’ll just raise them for them and ask them if they can keep them there and then finally speech is their speech
slurred do they have any problems with verbal communication now if you see any single one of these
three symptoms it’s time to call 999. and that’s really important because by
dialing 999 it’ll mean that the paramedic response will ensure that that person is taken to a specialist stroke
unit now there’s no way of knowing if symptoms will pass or get better when
they first start so you need to seek immediate medical help even if the symptoms begin to pass
a stroke is a medical emergency the quicker the person arrives at a specially stroke unit the quicker they
will receive appropriate treatment now the first test helps to spot the
three most common symptoms of stroke but there are other signs that you should always take seriously
these include sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body including legs hands or feet
difficulty finding words or speaking in clear sentences sudden blurred vision or loss of sight
in one or both eyes certain memory loss or confusion and
dizziness or a sudden fall a sudden or severe headache as well
if you spot any of these signs of a stroke don’t wait call 99 straight away even if the symptoms pass
ambulance paramedics are trained in stroke and will take the person to the best possible hospital for specialist
treatment these symptoms along with those from the fast test also apply to tias
so let’s talk about stroke prevention what we can do to help prevent Strokes
in the future
a stroke can happen to anyone but there are some things that increase your risk of a stroke
it’s important to know what the risk factors are and do what you can to reduce your risk whilst most people who
have a stroke are older younger people as we’ve heard already today can have strokes too including children
and as we’ve already heard one in four strokes in the UK happens to people of a working age
everyone has a different risk of having a stroke which depends on the unique factors that belong to them risk factors
can be anything about you and your lifestyle like your age a health problem or
whether you drink or smoke Strokes can happen to anyone of any age
but as you get older your arteries naturally become harder making them more likely to become blocked
you can take active steps to reduce your risk at any age which we call modifiable risk factors
and we’ll look at these in a moment there are some health problems which can raise your risk of a stroke
atrial fibrillation or AF is when your heartbeat is irregular and may also be
abnormally fast there is a risk because the heart might not empty itself of blood at each beat
and a clock can then form in the blood left behind the blood or the clot can then travel to
the brain and cause a stroke most people don’t get any symptoms so
it’s important to get your pulse checked if you have untreated atrial fibrillation your risk of a stroke is up
to five times higher and a stroke can be more severe if you have atrial fibrillation
high blood pressure puts a strain on all of the blood vessels throughout your body including the ones leading to your
brain The Strain can damage your blood vessels causing them to become harder and
narrower this is a process or a condition called atherosclerosis the buildup of this
fatty stuff on the walls of Our arteries this makes a blockage more likely to
occur which causes a stroke or a TIA what’s more high blood pressure is a
leading risk factor for hemorrhagic type stroke because
heightened blood pressure puts additional strain on the blood vessel walls which might cause them to burst
what about diabetes diabetes means you have too much sugar
in your blood and this can make you more likely to have a stroke this is because
having too much sugar in your blood damages the blood vessel walls in a similar way to high blood pressure
it also makes your blood a bit stickier too
if your blood vessel walls become stiffer then this attracts more
atherosclerotic plaque that fatty stuff that can form on the walls of Our arteries and again this can lead to an
increased likelihood of having a blockage type stroke
having too much bad cholesterol in your blood can also increase the likelihood
of fatty deposits building up on the walls of Our arteries this makes Our arteries narrower and
stiffer and makes it harder for blood to flow it also increases the chance of a blood clot developing
Strokes can run in families so speak to your GP or nurse if you have a family history of stroke
you may need some tests and health checks and some tailored advice on how you can reduce your risk
now stroke happens more often in people who are of a black African black Caribbean or South Asian descent
if you’re black or South Asian you may need to get checked at an earlier age for diabetes
especially if you have any risk factors like being overweight
so what can you do to help reduce your risk of stroke you can help to reduce your risk of
Stroke by making some healthy lifestyle choices whether it’s your diet activity level
smoking or drinking it’s never too late to make a change
regularly drinking too much alcohol raises your risk of a stroke in the UK the government advises that to
keep your health risks low it’s best to drink no more than 14 units a week and
to spread the units across the week the limits of 14 units is the same for
both men and women smoking doubles your risk of dying from
a stroke but the minute you quit your risk of a stroke starts to drop right away
stopping smoking could be one of the best things you could ever do for your health and there is lots of help available
giving up isn’t easy but it’s worth the effort to improve your health
being overweight or obese can raise your risk of stroke extra weight affects your body in many ways
such as raising the risk of high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes which are
both linked to stroke eating a healthy balanced diet can help
to lower your risk of things like high blood pressure and diabetes even making small changes to your eating
habits can make a difference to your overall health particularly if you’ve been told that you’re at risk of having a stroke or a
TIA critically active can help to reduce your risk of a stroke moving around can
also help your emotional well-being by releasing chemicals into your brain that make you feel better too
if you already have a health condition linked to stroke sticking to your treatment can help to reduce that risk
if you’ve had a stroke or Tia one of the best ways to reduce your risk of another stroke is to follow the treatment for
your health conditions advised by your doctors all the health conditions we have spoken
about today can happen to you at any age so even if you feel in good health get a
regular health check you can contact your GP to book an appointment for this or your local
pharmacist can give it advice to do some health checks such as blood pressure and pulse checks
in England people aged 40 to 74 can get the NHS health check which looks for
signs of health problems including stroke risk remember you should always get
individual advice about your own health and any treatment you may need from a medical professional such as a GP or
so what’s the impact of stroke in the UK today Alicia was 27 years old and working as a
teacher when she had her stroke here she is in her own words sharing her
experience I know
lion giraffe elephant
Ryan of Massachusetts your life my mind was
not coming together inside I’m stuck inside frustrated it’s
not because anyone’s done it’s just because I can’t say it and it’s not coming out
Ben CH with s what is that
it’s five letters taste
I think it was when I was at the rehab they must have mentioned Aphasia now what I know at this point what a phase I
mean you’re intelligent but you do have to start from the beginning I didn’t really understand this is a stroke the
doctors were coming and saying you might not wake up you might not be able to talk you might have a wheelchair it
could be quite severe I was a teacher for five years and that
was honestly my passion but it took a long long long like a year to accept
that no I don’t think I can be a teacher
best I smile but I do have a lot of Tears or upset or worried
I guess action anxious they don’t really tell you that this is going to be an
ongoing thing for the rest of her life and your life because sometimes I feel that I’m in my
own way own well own world while everyone else is moving on this is a
scrapbook all my memories the reason why I kept it is because like
look at this before how severe it is but now it’s I guess better I’d like to
remember how much how far you’ve come exactly yeah I’m just trying to think about like when
I have the sad things what what will I do to make it better football yeah but the Americans might
circle soccer soccer they did call it football
I don’t think he knew how to do speak to language I’m really happy with this new things
I’m doing like I’m not I’ve accept that I’m not a teacher but I am a teacher because I’m
volunteering I think everyone can do anything they want to do might take time but I believe you can do it stand up and
don’t give up whatever you want to do I feel so grateful that the stroke Association has really helped us so much
you get to meet new people who’ve had a stroke but now I am volunteering for the stroke Association and I honestly love
it you have to think that we are alive but
how can we help others now we’re lucky we have to remember imagine that point I thought I was gonna lie uh die they said
that but now I’m here today I can walk I can talk I can learn I can do so much
like it’s just yeah I guess I’m quite grateful and blessed in that sense
I hope you enjoyed Alicia’s story
let’s talk through some numbers relating to stroke then first up we’ve got our incidence of
stroke there are over a hundred thousand new Strokes every year and over 1.3
million stroke survivors in the UK today that’s the prevalence of stroke
two-thirds of these people leave hospital with a disability and the cost of stroke to our society is around 26
billion pounds a year and is the fourth biggest killer
in England and Wales within the third biggest killer in Scotland and Northern Ireland
26 billion pounds of year so how have they come to that figure so they facted absolutely everything
from inpatient assessment and treatment costs to Care and Rehabilitation in the
community costs of medication accessing social care
benefits all of that stuff has been factored in to that estimated cost to the public
purse so let’s talk about the effects of
stroke all Strokes are different for some people the effects may be relatively minor and may not last long
While others may be left with more serious debilitating long-term problems
a stroke is sudden and shocking it can affect every part of your life it’s a
lot to deal with so it’s likely to have an effect on your own emotional well-being everyone’s experience of stroke is
unique but for many people it feels like they’ve lost the life they had before feelings of shock denial anger grief and
guilt are normal when you’re faced with such devastating change dealing with them can be hard and
everyone does it in their own way it can be very difficult to cope with the emotions you have after a stroke
the way we behave of often depends on the way we feel so if your emotions change after stroke then your behavior
is likely to change too but it’s not just about the way we feel sometimes a stroke can also affect the
way you respond to what’s going on around you this can make you behave differently too
other effects of stroke will also affect your behavior tiredness can mean you’re less active or
talkative for example or frustration at not being able to do
the things for yourself can build up and make you aggressive towards others a stroke can affect the way your brain
understands organizes and stores information this is also known as cognition
every second you receive a huge amount of information from the world around you which your brain has to understand
organize and keep if the part of your brain that processes
this information is damaged this can cause a number of problems problems with memory
and thinking are very common after stroke and most people will have some difficulties with these
problems with concentration are also quite common
when we communicate our brain has to complete a series of tasks different parts of our brain are
responsible for each of these tasks if one of these parts is damaged by a stroke it can cause problems with
communication this can be very common after a stroke
Aphasia is a complex language and communication disorder resulting from damage to the language centers of the
brain over 350 000 people in the UK today have
aphasia which means around one-third of stroke survivors have problems with speaking Reading Writing telling the
time using technology dealing with money and understanding what other people are saying to them
it doesn’t affect intelligence though as people with Aphasia still think in the same way they’re just unable to
communicate their thoughts easily you’ve got swallowing problems also very
common after a stroke almost half of people who have a stroke will have a swallowing problem at first
but it often improves quite quickly swallowing is a complicated task that needs your brain to coordinate many
different muscles if your stroke damages the parts of the brain that do this then it will affect
your ability to swallow swallowing problems are also known as dysphagia
about two-thirds of people have visual problems after stroke it’s a very very common
and visual loss after a stroke can affect daily living in a multitude of different ways
you could find it more difficult to do things like reading shopping or watching the television
you may need support for returning to work such as help with travel or new ways of doing your job
sight loss is linked to an increased risk of emotional problems like anxiety and depression too
a stroke can cause problems with physical activities like walking writing and getting dressed due to muscle
weakness stiffness and changes in sensation the physical effects of stroke are
varied and no two people will experience the same thing after a stroke a person
might experience problems like fatigue this excessive and overwhelming tiredness that often doesn’t get better
with sleep and rest but they might also experience problems with balance or
joint pain fortunately most people make significant growth improvements in the months
following their stroke but sadly for some people affected by stroke these can end up being more long-standing
difficulties when someone close to you has a stroke they usually need ongoing help and
support after they return home from hospital but taking on caring responsibilities is
a huge decision it’s often something people do as part of a relationship and they see it as the
natural thing to do but caring can be challenging and it takes time and energy and caring can
take its toll and carers tell us that they sometimes feel exhausted overwhelmed and isolated too
in 2018 the stroke Association conducted the largest ever survey of stroke
survivors and their care is to find out more about their lives
over 11 000 people affected by stroke in the UK took the time to share their stories with us
and these statistics give us more of a feel of the impact of stroke on people’s everyday lives rather than the effects
of stroke which we talked through on the previous slide we know more about the everyday
experiences of those living with the effects of stroke which can sometimes last a lifetime
over a third of those who shared their story with us told us that they had to give up work as a result of their stroke
and 69 felt that their stroke had significantly impacted their independence
I’ll give you just a moment to to read and digest some of these statistics
despite everything we’ve talked through on the last two slides about the effects and the impact of stroke
there is hope for people affected stroke is a non-progressive condition
and people can make positive steps forward in their recovery it’s tough but
with the right specialist support and a ton of courage and determination the brain can adapt after stroke
so your brain is amazing it has the ability to rewire itself allowing you to improve skills such as
walking talking and the use in your affected arm if that’s affected
this process is known as neuroplasticity now neuroplasticity isn’t happening in
all of us every time we think about something differently or learn a new skill it’s
all about your brain forming new pathways well this process this thing called
neuroplasticity is essential to recovery following a stroke
the great thing about neuroplasticity is though there’s no limit and that it can continue for months years even decades
after a stroke there’s always this capacity to make positive steps forward
now every stroke is different not everyone can make a complete recovery and for some people despite all the will
in the world sadly some things may not return to what they were like prior to their stroke
but neuroplasticity makes positive steps forward in a person’s recovery possible
and many people do make progress with their individual goals like getting stronger more mobile or more independent
so with the right support many people can gain confidence and find new ways of
relearning the things that perhaps may have been affected by their stroke
time and again at the stroke Association we’ve seen thousands of people adapt to a new life after stroke we’ve helped
them adjust to a new normal and that’s why we’re here to support people to rebuild their lives after
okay so I said at the beginning of this session we would hear from someone with lived experience of stroke let me
introduce you to Danny now this is his story hi um I’m Danny I’m a Community
Connector for the stroke Association I’ve had two streaks and the first one
was in 1995 when I was age 22 and then a
second one in 2013 on New Year’s Day um both were caused by an underlying
blood clotting disorder that was diagnosed as a result of the first stroke I had
um my first stroke was in 1995 and it was a slow burner as I call it
um over time my speech slowed down um and I developed some sort of quite
weird um movement patterns where I physically couldn’t keep still and I was all
jiggling fiddling around which was um not particularly good because I worked
on a drawing board at the time as a draftsman which was not the best because my hands kept
fidgeting right um it was frustrating and a bit
embarrassing so I was quite aware of it and even with friends and people
um sort of making fun and things like that not knowing what it was because I literally
wouldn’t stop fidgeting um gradually my speech slowed down and
eventually sort of went all together and then I struggled with fatigue really
badly which took several months to sort of resolve once I’d had treatment and a
diagnosis or a diagnosis in the treatment [Music] um after the months passed I was generally
okay um I find things I did before a bit harder in terms of
um getting tired and managing myself um but the underlying condition was sort
of fairly well sort of managed and looked after and I ticked over like that for a long time a
very long time um my second string happened in the early hours of New Year’s Day in 2013
um I later found out I had a blood clot but I had underlying high blood pressure which I didn’t make
um and it’s been explained that the artery behind the clock split because of
the blood pressure issue which then caused the hemorrhage and obviously I had an admission to
hospital where I sort of ended up staying for six months in total three months as an
inpatient and three months in a brain injury Rehabilitation Unit
um the actual uh Hemorrhage itself was at the back of the brain
um quite specific location in the cerebellum um quite close to the brainstem which is
uh makes it all the more sort of amazing that I survived you know and and have
come out of it as well as I have [Music] um the worst things I had was my balance
was completely gone I couldn’t even sit um on a bed to start with without
falling over um in addition my speech
um was really affected um I had something called dysarthria which is to do the motor function so I
could think of the words and speak uh as I normally did but I just couldn’t form
the words and I had very strange speech patterns for a long time and had to speak to
language therapy and as part of the residential rehab had a lot of
Physiotherapy and had to regain my ability to walk and just do sort of
day-to-day things um my main focus was getting my Independence back because I was always
quite fiercely independent I suppose and I was desperate to get that back
um I now walk with a walk-in stick um and my my walk-in is far better than it
was um although it’s never going to be you know as it was before my streak you know
I don’t think but compared to where I was it’s fantastic really
um how I view my time in hospital I’ve often said the inpatients part was
fantastic and I think they saved my life really you know they but then the
rehabilitation part and parts ever since sort of almost gave me my life back or a
life worth living back because it was one thing being saved from the condition
but had I remained how I was I would have you know it wouldn’t have been a
particularly healthy or a nice way to live I don’t think um as I mentioned I I’ve always been
really independent sometimes to my own fault I didn’t want to accept people’s help when I needed it and fell over
quite a lot as a result of that just through stupid Pride I suppose
um I remember when I first had the invitation or possibility of going to
Rehabilitation had a meeting with the lead consultant in rehab and
it was quite difficult to get a place at the time and I convinced him that if he
gave me the opportunity I would do whatever it takes to you know get myself
going and do work really hard to do it um because I knew for me I had to get
some degree of Independence back um you know just to have a decent life
again really um so he he fortunately gave me the opportunity and I hopefully proved to
him you know I was worth the investment um and bizarrely I’ve bumped into
another gym a couple years after I was discharged which which was quite
um a funny experience because I don’t know who was more shocked than me or him and that I sort of always remember that
um when I was discharged I went home had a community rehab for a little while
and then I was working to sort of get my fitness back and pick up things I used
to do because I used to do Judo I did Jiu Jitsu for a while and for a long
time I was convinced I could go back to it unrealistically and then when I accepted I didn’t
um it was suggested in rehab actually I might want to learn tai chi I was
not particularly pleased about that being suggested and actually said there
was no way I was doing exercise for older people um which I know I now realize is
ridiculous because I change your mind I was persuaded to do it and it’s
fantastic it’s made such a difference um to my life not only physically but
how I am as a person um as an example I went to the first lesson
and I couldn’t even stand up um in the sort of therapy room without
leaning against the wall and now sort of you know nine years later nine almost Ten Years Later doing it I can move
around do parts of Tai Chi I never ever thought I would be able to do so
it’s a sort of Testament to how good it is um I’d certainly recommend it to anybody
um I at the time of my first string I was or I considered myself to be very fit
and healthy I was actually a bodybuilder in my early twenties
I just done my first um competition at volleyball into air show
and became third which I was really pleased with although I was a bit disappointed
um and then six months later had the first streak which came with a complete
shock to me and it completely changed like they could sort of course in my
life from then on really I think looking back on it I think one
thing I would like to get across to people is the importance of you know in yourself and your own health
and your own body in terms of um knowing your own blood pressure I didn’t didn’t realize how important that
is um and that was like a major contributing factor in particular
to the second stroke I had although ironically that how my blood condition
was detected the first time was through blood pressure testing because they
couldn’t work out what was going on with me and my blood pressure in the doctor’s
surgery was ridiculously high and I still remember my GPS face when she read
the numbers um and as I said it I wished I it’s easy to say now I wish
I’d known how important blood pressure was then um in more recent years I’ve bought myself
a home blood pressure monitor which I do several times a year
um just to keep things in check really because I was like repeatedly said I didn’t realize how important it was
um and how it can be such a life-saving thing to know for something very simple
and if you you don’t necessarily know you’ve got high blood pressure because you don’t necessarily feel it so it’s
one of these things you have to check to um you know monitor yourself it is what I
guess I’m trying to say thank you so much for sharing your story
Danny um I hope that was interesting and useful for you guys
um yeah a really interesting and Powerful story of Danny’s recovery there
so let’s think about how you can take action on stroke in order to help rebuild the lives of stroke survivors
so firstly I wanted to talk to you a little bit about something called the communication access symbol
now one of the biggest challenges for people affected by stroke which I touched on earlier on is something called aphasia a language type
communication problem but it’s a problem many people don’t know enough about or
how they can help or better awareness of the condition and the right communication tools can make all the
difference now the communication access symbol has been developed to enable people with
communication difficulties to identify businesses for whose staff members are
trained in communication support anyone including businesses
organizations and even family and friends can voluntarily sign up for free accredited training on the communication
access UK website and you’ll need to complete this course annually to maintain your accreditation
companies with staff who have successfully completed the training will be added to the communication accessible
National directory and can display the communication access symbol on their premises so certainly something to think
about there as a charity we rely on the generosity
of our amazing supporters and there are so many ways that you can support us to
support people affected by stroke and you can take a look at our website to find out what volunteering
opportunities are available locally you might want to support your local group volunteer for our here for you service
or take part in a one-off opportunity supporting a local event whatever works
for you follow us on social media and share our posts you can also join our campaigns
Network by checking our campaigning pages on our website check out our website for lots of ideas
about how you can help to raise vital funds in age of the stroke Association opportunities include taking part in
various challenge events completing one of our virtual fundraising challenges or
perhaps organizing some sort of DIY fundraising event yourself with our guidance and fundraising materials
so thank you for watching this session today you can scan the QR code on the screen
now to leave feedback about the session and also make a donation if you’d like
to You’ll also find links to information on our website to services like my stroke guide here for you and our
helpline in case you or anyone you know needs our help if you’d like more information about
stroke and the stroke Association you can visit our website at stroke.org dot
UK and then finally you can also find us on Facebook Twitter and Instagram
thanks again for watching this session I hope it’s been an interesting and useful
use of your time and it’s helped increase your knowledge and understanding of stroke and the work
that we do at the stroke Association thank you for your time
Am I at Risk of a Stroke?
The three main symptoms of Stroke or TIA can be recognised using the FAST test however some other symptoms are also listed in the link above. The key to remember is that these symptoms all have a sudden onset and if you suspect someone is having a Stroke or TIA you should call 999.
It is possible to significantly reduce your risk of having a stroke by making lifestyle changes and managing any medical conditions you may have.
It is never too late to start making changes to your diet, activity levels or your smoking and drinking habits to help to reduce the risk of a TIA or stroke.
It is not always easy however there is lots of support available.
Created in collaboration with our Hospital Radio team, staff from our Trust stroke team on Ward 41 took some time out to create a podcast that discusses their role and how they support stroke patients in-hospital.
Welcome to North Tees and Hartlepool voices telling the stories of our people and community in our trust.
Hi guys. We’re just here today to speak a bit about our role on the Ward 41 the Stroke ward, my name’s Laura and my name’s David and we’re both psychologists at work into the stroke service. So today we’re just going to have a bit of a general conversation from our experience of seeing and supporting patients on the ward following and having a Stroke and just thinking about how difficult that can be for patients. And also just to bring in awareness.
Really, to the mental health aspects of having physical illness and in particular having a stroke. So I don’t know if you wanna start, David, but what kind of comes to your mind to do you think when you’ve seen patients on the ward who’ve just recently had a stroke, I think what comes to mind initially is that there’s a process of shock. And in it’s really hard I think for people to sometimes accept what has happened to them. And it brings with it a lot of feelings of loss of independence, questions about stroke, questions about when they’ll be able to go home. And it is a process of adjustment.
Yeah, I think you’re right. I think for a lot of people and some people will do well, another just naturally overtime. I think when someone’s first had a stroke, it just come to the massive surprise. I think that’s what a lot of people have told me. They’ve said to me, you know what I never thought I’d have a stroke. I didn’t think it would happen to me. Some people have said I didn’t even realise I was having a stroke when I was having a stroke. So maybe I deferred getting help and treatment and then to turn up in hospital. There’s, I guess, quite a lot of dust, shock and surprise, really about what? I’ve had a stroke.
And what a stroke means. I think that’s one of the things that’s really difficult about being on the ward. I think some people on the ward are very unwell when they’ve had a stroke and they’ve got everything that people might think about when someone’s had a stroke, they might not be able to move, might not be able to speak and that not be able to function very well. And I think on the whole in society, that’s the image that we have of people that have had a stroke. But it’s that it’s older people that become very frail and they can’t do a right lot. And I think actually that’s not the reality. I think when people have a stroke, there’s so many people on the world that are working age.
Adults that are young that yes, they have some difficulties from having a stroke, so they might have some difficulty with their speech, with their vision, with their balance. They might have some weakness and in one of the arms and legs, some people might not be able to move. Some people might be able to move, but actually they’re pretty well functioning after having a stroke. And that comes as quite a surprise to people then being this young person that they’ve had a stroke or maybe they don’t have some of the obvious complications with having a stroke after. I don’t know what your thoughts on that are, David. I agree with that. Laura, I think you know my experience.
The last six months, we’ve seen people across the life span, you know, I’ve seen people in the 20s, thirties up to the 90s. So it isn’t limited. And I agree with what you were saying about we have this image, this idea as a society that struck only affects people of old age and that is, you know, patently untrue. And I think sometimes that can be really difficult. When you were younger person or are working age adult person on the ward. And I think it goes what you were saying earlier. You see the full spectrum of stroke on the water as well, which can be quite distressing. So you might, you know, depending on what type of stroke.
Thought you might see someone who’s had who’s been really affected by it. And I guess one of the things that that I talk about with patients is to not make those comparisons. Sometimes it can be unhelpful to make comparisons between the stroke that you’ve had and the stroke that someone else’s had. Yeah, I think you’re right. I think sometimes the patients can get into that state, can’t they? Comparing themselves to others. With that comes anxiety and concern about, well, why am I okay? Why are they not okay? Will that be me? Well, I have.
Other stroke and end up like that and you get a little worry, don’t you? About what that means. Will they have more strokes? But I think there’s also the other side of that where they really start to worrying and then almost feel guilty that they’re not that impaired and that can impact on people. I guess that’s a theme that we’ve seen maybe more towards the community when people are going home, yes. But they’re saying, you know, what am I, a fraud? Did I did I have a stroke? The almost question themselves because they’re not how they think they should be or they more functional they should be. And then it’s like, well, do I do I deserve support? Is it okay?
Let me talk to posters with my mental health, because I’m not really impaired. I’m I just can’t speak very well. I still don’t have the function in one of my left hands and we always say I don’t leave the actually everyone that has a throat goes through a process of being scared, being anxious of being worried. I’ve been in shock having to adjust and process what’s happened to them, coming to terms with maybe physical difficulties as a result of having a stroke, potentially difficulties within that family, but also with their mood and mental health. Because I think even if you’re doing okay after it, you have a stroke.
So that worry and anxiety about having another one, and that’s a big worry, isn’t it? For a lot of people? Yeah, it’s a massive worry for a lot of people. In fact, a lot of the people that we see, that’s one of their questions, isn’t it? Do I know if I’ll have a have another stroke? And I guess what we say about that is we don’t know. But we do know that no one asked to have a stroke. We don’t know if anyone’s gonna have another, have another stroke in the future, but we spend a lot of time. I guess getting caught up in that worries that can be really negative for our mental health and it’s and it’s really difficult and it’s a process of adjustment. But it’s trying to really take things one step at a time, one day at a time.
Trying to think about, I guess getting better and focusing on new rehab at that moment in time, but it’s tough, isn’t it, that those comparisons and I think that’s so important just to pick up on what you said there, Laura, about taking it one day at a time and it’s temporary. You know I think when people come into hospital, if they’ve not been in hospital before, that in in itself is different, they’re in a different environment. You know there might be missing their family, they might have a lot of uncertainty around you know like you were saying will this happen again and questions around why did this happen? And I think as people we like certainty we want.
Certainty and that question that you’ve mentioned there will I have another stroke? We hear that a lot, don’t we hear that on the water we hear that in the Community, in our group work that we do and there’s something about wanting that absolute certainty and I think people can buy into that that worry of I’m gonna have another stroke and it can have a really detrimental impact on their wellbeing. It really comedy is all an effort, isn’t it? Yeah. To try and feel safe. Yeah. Try and prevent something else from happening. And it’s hard to accept that some of the time we don’t have control over these things. But I guess what you picked up on there as well.
But isn’t it? Sometimes people can get into this state of blaming themselves, so having a stroke as well, and we sometimes you have to work with that. And so you know what, we don’t always know 100% why people have strokes. There are certain risk factors that might be certain things about your diet and exercise that might have increased it. But we don’t know cause everyone’s different. So some people might smoke and drink and never have a stroke and someone might never drink anything in their life and yet have a stroke. So I guess it’s all about interactions and it between your body and we try to move away don’t we from kind of working out why someone had a stroke because no.
No one asks for it to just think about what can we do now to look after you? I think that mirrors a lot of my experience on the ward, Laura as well. Sometimes when I’ve met people, the question of why ever had a stroke, they can be very self-blaming. You know they can say I’ve smoked or drank or it’s because of my weight or it’s because I’ve been stressed and the internalised our problem and they attribute it to some something that they’ve done and I think it’s really important to try and step away from that mindset because the blame you know like you were saying it’s not clear why.
Necessary to cause and individual differences will always be present as is with any condition and I think it goes to that process of adjustment as well, doesn’t it? Of wanting the certainty of why is this happening to me? And I think that’s a natural process for everyone to go through and that’s what I say to everyone that I meet on the world is that it’s a process of adjustment and in fact some of the impact, a lot of the patients that I do see will tell me that they started to adjust themselves. So at the often we will see someone maybe a week after the referrals gone in and what I will get told is they were feeling really low.
They were really upset. They were feeling quite anxious when they were initially on the ward, but now they’ve been on the ward a week. You know what they’re feeling better and they’re telling me that they’re feeling better because they’re seeing their family. They’re coming to visit. They’re starting to understand what’s happened to them. They’ve started to engage in physio and speech therapy. They’re starting to see progress. And so actually that initial shock, that initial distress is starting to lift and for a lot of people, this happens naturally, doesn’t it, David? Yes. It’s quite often the people on the ward don’t need a lot of input from us. It’s just about helping them to understand.
It’s okay to feel distressed and anxious after a stroke. Something big has happened to you. Something scary has happened to you. Of course, you’re gonna feel upset, anxious and worried. It goes to what we’re saying earlier, doesn’t it? About normalising distress that it is normal, and I think, you know, there’s a tendency. I wonder sometimes about pathologising distress and seeing it as being something that that needs specialist input to pick up on what you were saying. Laura, sometimes we do see people a week after the referrals come in. And, you know, once I’ve seen them, they’ve said, like, actually. Yeah.
A week ago, when I was speaking with a consultant, I was really distressed. But actually I’ve talked about a plan. I’ve got a plan for going home and the physios have already noticed an improvement in my mobility or my speech is getting better at once. They can see those incremental increases, those gains on a day by day basis or somebody feeding back to them. You know, I can see that you’ve made this improvement. I think it has a huge impact on their wellbeing and think that just that period of time to just make sense of and process what has happened to them is so important. I would definitely and I get think getting that feedback and improving in Physio interviews.
He really motivates them as well to continue to do well. I think the only downside to that sometimes one of the difficulties though is that if there and then becomes any delay or I guess people out making as good a progress in physiotherapy and speech therapy as they would like. So I think then when maybe the initially started to make progress on the ward and then the starting to struggle, they can get quite frustrated because they start them to worry about what my life might be going forward. They might start to then blame themselves as well.
So I think one of the things that I’ve noticed when I have met patients on the ward and they’ve not kind of made that natural adjustment or they made that and natural adjustment to feeling a bit brighter and then starting to struggle again is when they’re getting frustrated with themselves. And I think when people have had a stroke as well, what’s really difficult is sometimes obviously you can see some of the physical impact when you can’t move, when you having difficulty with your speech, but you forget that it’s your brain that’s hot because you can’t see your brain and everyone’s used to their brain kind of doing what they want, when they want. So thinking for them, making sure the breathing, walking, talking.
All the rest of it. But then when their brain’s not allowing them to do something because it’s damaged, they start to blame themselves. So quite often I spend a lot of time with patients and really reinforcing the fact that you’ve had a stroke. Your brain is hurt, you have a hurt brain. It’s not you that’s struggling. And because he starts to feel like a failure, it’s the fact that your brain’s hurt and we then try to compare it and think about what if you had a broken leg and could see that your leg was broken, would you get angry and frustrated with yourself if you couldn’t walk? If you couldn’t get yourself out bed? Probably not. You’d probably be much more.
Lying to yourself and understanding you bought me more likely to ask for help and it’s the same thing, but because you can’t see that your brain’s hurt, particularly the rest of you, is quite well functioning. And maybe you can do everything else that you wanna do, but your brain’s not letting you think straight or getting your words jumbled. You can get really frustrated and it’s just reminding yourself when you’re on the ward, I think. I don’t know if it’s the same when you’ve seen patients, David, as you know what? It’s not you. You’ve gotta have brain. Be kind to yourself. And I’ve used that exact same analogue. Laura, you know that if you’ve got a visible, you know, difficulty like.
You know a broken leg. You know it’s visible, it’s easily observable and you wouldn’t expect to climb a ladder. You wouldn’t expect to run a marathon, but we can’t see the damage to our brain. So when you, you know, if you’ve got difficulty with your speech or difficulty with mobility or difficulty with, with coordination, it’s not easy to observe where that’s coming from or why that is so. It builds a lot of frustration. And I think sometimes people can be very, very self-critical. And I think that’s sometimes one of the things that I see in people that’s been on the ward. And I wonder if that’s your experience as well. Laura, there can be really critical.
About and I think it comes back as well to what you were saying earlier about the idea of feeling like a fraud. You know that my stroke isn’t as bad as other people. And again, being on the wall, did you see the full spectrum of stroke? So it doesn’t make that comparison. And I think it’s really important to remember that again, what we were saying that every stroke is different, that you can’t make those comparisons because we have strokes at different ages, different types of stroke, whether it’s ischemic hemorrhagic or and also how physically fit the person was before the stroke is a factor as well. Do they have other physical health problems?
To the how previous mental health problems I wonder, Lauren, in your experience in in mine, when I’ve seen people on the ward who’ve struggled with adjustments, sometimes it’s because they’ve had previous mental health problems. And I think that can make it more difficult to adjust as well. Yeah, I would say so. I think for some people, their life experiences may be difficult way before the stroke happened. And they might have lots of other things going on for them. They might find it that they don’t always have strategies to manage their emotions historically based on their upbringing or different life events. And then when you’ve had a stroke.
Obviously you need ways of managing your emotions and managing difficulties in life, and I think if they don’t have that already and they’re more likely to find it harder to then to adapt to having a stroke, I think that’s what I would say. I think most people that I’ve seen that maybe don’t have a history of mental health difficulties haven’t been in kind of secondary mental health services have adapted quite well. They’ve been on the ward. I think one of the things that we notice on the ward as well, they actually sometimes they’re distress about being on the ward isn’t necessarily about having the strike, but it’s been about being away from family.
Yes, because being on the ward anyway is tough. You’re in an unfamiliar environment, you’re not on your own safe space where you where you’re in control, where you have family members around you that you feel supported by and comfortable with. I think people are different, aren’t they? And I think some people can adapt to getting support and helping people who don’t know other people just don’t like that. It’s not what they’re used to. It’s unfamiliar, particularly if someone’s really independent. So I think sometimes actually some of the distress about being on the ward isn’t necessarily about the strokes.
Specifically, but it’s about that loss of independence and having to rely on people that they don’t know and being away from the family that they would much rather be with. Yeah. And the home environment makes them feel safe and it’s and it’s that broken relationships and then impacts their mood. But what we often find with those individuals is when they do get home, when they’re thinking about home or when patients, family members are coming in to see them, that they get brighter, they’re feeling better in themselves. That’s helpful. And for those individuals. And then lots of people on the world out, we talk about bringing things in from home.
That might help them to adjust stutter, manage while they’re on the war, particularly if they’re here for a long time. Things that remind them of family members, things that remind them of the comforts and support and love that they’ve got outside of hospital, cause hospital’s tough, isn’t it? It’s a tough place to be. If you’ve got any other physical health difficulties going on. If you’ve got negative experiences of being in hospital or your loved ones have been in hospital, if you’ve had bereavement recently, hospitals even harder. Yeah, completely agree. Lower with everything you said there. And I also think, you know, going back to what you’re saying, a lot of the people that we see on the.
On the ward for initial assessments, we often don’t see again once they’re released, you know, post discharge. And I think it goes to what we what we’ve been saying today about the normal process of adjustment once they’re home, they’re back in their normal environment, they’re with family, they’re being cared for. They’ve had time to process what happened to them. The distress reduce the significantly and they no longer need or want psychological support. No, I think quite in many cases. Yeah. No, I think you’re right. I think that’s the thing isn’t. And that’s what amazes me. And I think humans are wit, amazes me just how resilient and.
Adaptive, we are really as a species and people do remarkably well without our support. This is just the odd cases, and it was something where they’ve maybe got a delay in physio on the ward. Things haven’t gone quite to plan. They maybe have underlying kind of mental health difficulties why we’ve had to do more with them while they’ve been in hospital. And I think when people get discharged home quite often, people do really well for a period of time. I think sometimes that changes if maybe as I said earlier, things aren’t quite going to plan. The not getting back to their previous level of functioning. And I think that’s when.
I guess that loss comes in and I think people forget this quite a lot, so we often think about loss and grief to do with death and people dying but actually it’s just to do with loss in general and when someone’s had a stroke if they’ve lost part of what they’re able to do if they’ve lost more their functioning if they can’t go back to work, they might not feel like themselves and I think sometimes is that grieving process, but who they used to be yeah, and I think sometimes then people can really strive to be the person that they were before and spend a lot of energy and effort into being that person.
To no avail. So I think quite often they’ll try to do things at exactly how they used to not be able to feel frustrated on themselves, but still want to get back to that person’s will then continue trying to do it, and then it’s again, isn’t it? It’s about working with people to process that, that loss and those kind of feelings of grief, but then thinking about, well, how can you be the person you are now, cause you still you. It’s just maybe a different version of you going forward. So how can we help you to adjust to your life to still do the things that are important to you? Yeah. It’s interesting, isn’t it? The idea of, you know, we talked a little bit about.
About normal and I think there’s something really powerful about wanting to get back to normal and we hear this a lot. We hear this on the ward, we hear this also in the Community, in our groups and our 1:00 to 1:00 work, there’s something really strong. I think about, you know, I want to get back to normal. And I think in in some of the people that I’ve met and worked with this kind of like a grace period where they’ll allow themselves, say, a period of time, say six months and then make the notice that they’re making progress. But once they get to that six month point, sometimes there can be a dip and mental health. When people feel that.
I’m not back to where I thought I was going to be or at this point in time I thought I would be, you know, in airports back to normal and once there’s a realisation that sets in, I think that that there’s a new normal and there’s going to be a new sort of equilibrium. I think that is where sometimes people can struggle with their mental health, real sense isn’t there are people wanting to be who they were before. Yeah. And I think that always comes through with everyone that we see and I think is it for me, it’s those two themes of I want to be certain that nothing bad is going to happen to me again. Yeah. And what going to do to prevent the stroke.
Happening to me, another stroke happening to me and I just want to be who I was before. And it’s tough because I think one of the hardest things about having a stroke is we don’t know if that’s gonna be the case. And for some people, we do know that they will never be who they were before, but other people, we don’t know that and it is then a process of adjustment and grief of kind of coming to some acceptance that you know what you asked all you. But things are gonna be different and you have to be ready to take that journey and then to engage in therapy around that as well, an engagement.
So important, isn’t it? You know, we have that conversation a lot in our, in our group work and our 1:00 to 1:00 that, that, that there has to be right. You know that we can’t we can’t fix people we can’t fix their mental health and its collaborative. Isn’t it a shared process of psychologists trying to make sense of what it is that they’re struggling with at that time and also thinking about what are the barriers so where is it that they’re stuck and I think the biggest the common pitfalls and I think you’ve commented on some of them are already are among things like wanting to get back to normal I think.
The engine identity, the genic we’ve touched on is such a huge thing, isn’t it? Especially if you’re working age adult because we all part of our job is our identity. Sorry. Our job is part of our identity, you know whether or not where. Where a mother. Father. Son, daughter, friend. You know, partner, we all have different social roles. And sometimes the stroke can challenge or change those roles. If you’re not able to work if you’re not able to adapt. In my experience law. And I’m curious about yours. Sometimes the people who struggle to accept the care and the support are the ones.
Who are themselves carers, so if they’ve been a parent and if they’ve been used to caring, or if they’ve been in a job where they’re used to caring for people professionally, it can sometimes be harder. I think for them to accept that support themselves. What’s your experience? I think that’s bang on, David. I think that’s my experience and I think it comes from a place of it just being really uncomfortable. And I think, therefore sometimes frightening and scary to give up that role. And I think that might come back to not feeling in control. And I think it’s also comes to doubt of will people be there for me because I think they’re.
Dynamic within relationships has always been what I’ve always looked after other people, but will people really do that for me? Because this is how I know to get my needs met. This is how I know to make sure that I have those relationships and maintain those relationships, and I think people then become quite frightened, don’t they, of doing things differently. And I think we often try and say to people, don’t we, to think about things from other compassionate perspective. So to think about actually, what do you think your daughter or friend would say if you thought when you said that you didn’t want people to help you or you’d be worried they wouldn’t want to help you?
And quite often they go well. I think they would. They’d be fine with it. Like I think they’d want to help me. But I think they don’t often come to that conclusion themselves. They just become worried because they don’t want to burden other people. And I think their life has always been not been a bird of not been helpful. So then to not be helpful, not to feel helpful automatically makes them feel like they’re gonna be a burden. And that can have such an impact on recovery. Count it because it comes with all those feelings of guilt and feelings of and, like the grief again. And I think what’s underpinning it is difficulty of accepting it. And we talk a lot in our work, don’t we, about acceptance.
Yeah, I don’t think it is, isn’t it? And we do, we use acceptance and commitment therapy and a lot of the work we do with patients and ultimately in that it talks, you know what life is really tough, there are difficulties to life. Having a stroke is tough. It’s difficult physically, it’s difficult emotionally and it’s not to say and that’s what we’re saying really just to accept that there are difficulties. They’re most, it’s gonna be tough, but let’s do it together and that’s how we work through poetically, isn’t it? We work with people and sit beside them in their difficulties to see what centre we can make of it.
Together and how we might be able to make it feel less overwhelming. But it is. It’s about acceptance. Ultimately, when you’ve had a stroke and I think that’s what’s hard because there’s no other way around it. And I think it’s important to add on the back of that law as well is that we see people who make enormous improvements in their mental health, people whose who do move to that place of, of a new normal for them, people who are able to connect with the things that their value and we do see, you know, really positive therapeutic gains. I think motivation is important. I think engagement, I think.
One of the things we spent a lot of time talking about don’t, especially in our group work, is about tolerating distress and it’s not something to fight that we all experience negative emotions. We all have difficult thoughts. We all have difficult feelings and these are not abnormal. They’re not bad. Sometimes, though, we spend a lot of time trying to fight those thoughts and push them away. And that just height is kind of like adding fuel to the fire. It just exacerbates the distress that’s already there. And sometimes people spend a lot of time fighting their suffering rather than actually turning towards it and thinking I’m going to embrace.
What I can do in the moment? Yeah, I think a lot of people don’t really spend so much time trying to be who they were before and to get away from any of the suffering or any of the difficulties that they might now have that they don’t acknowledge what time they’ve got or what are the positives in their life right now and how they could be spending their time at different way and people again, this is experience on the ward and in the community. Some people spend a lot of time hiding that they’ve had a stroke but not wanting other people to know that had a stroke and they might go to great lengths to. So, for example, they might go.
They might do their shopping in a different town so they don’t bump into people who know them. And again, it’s I think underpinning it is the lack of acceptance of what’s happened and wanting to be seen as normal. And if somebody I see who knows me knows of how to stroke, then it’s like.
And we speak, don’t we, to them often about, well, what impact does that have on your life? Like how can you still see your friends? How can you still see family members? How can you still do the things that are important to you if you’re not willing to acknowledge that you’ve had a stroke and you’re hiding because it’s taken away from you, everything that’s important in your life and everything that you enjoy. And quite often, people, when they think about it, that start to come round, to accept and thinking actually, by preventing others knowing that I’ve had a stroke, it’s stopping me from doing the other things I enjoy in life because I don’t want my friend to know. I don’t see her anymore.
Because I don’t want another friend of family members to know on my work, so I don’t do this anymore. They might not engage in hobbies that they like, and it’s so important. And isn’t it that acceptance really to be able to move forward? And the same thing about being in the now isn’t there? I think people spend a lot of time imagining a future that they haven’t lived and also living in a past that they have lived. But there’s very little time sometimes spent in the present moment. And we talk a lot only about mindfulness and being present in the here and now. Because ultimately this, this is all we have, isn’t it? We only have now we don’t have the past because it’s gone. We don’t have a future because we haven’t lived it yet.
All we have is here and now, and I think sometimes, and we all do this, whether we’ve had a stroke or not, we spend a lot of time ruminating about what’s happened or what we think is going to happen. And again we get caught up in these really difficult cycles, don’t we? Ohh so easily so easily we get really cop and just thinking and thinking and thinking about things, don’t we? And it’s because we wanna put prevent bad things happening to us and we don’t want to say we’re discomfort. We don’t want to be in, in pain. But I think what David said, what’s really important to emphasise is so many people that we see.
You really well following a strike with their mental health, so many people that then come to see us in the community make huge improvements in their mental health and gone to live really meaningful lives. And it’s a journey for everyone. Everyone’s different, I guess one of the things that might be important to mention on the podcast is just thinking actually, if you’re on the ward and you feel like you might need support or you would like to speak to myself or David and speak to the staff on the wall, we can arrange to come and see you. But also if you think if you’re listening to this now in the Community and you think you might need to part in the Community, you can always get refer back into ours.
So we’re here to offer a service for anyone that’s had a stroke up to two years post stroke. One of the main things that we offer as a service is a group therapy which has had just amazing feedback. People get to meet other people that have had a stroke, people that they are like them, and it really normalises some of these difficulties. They learn from each other. They grow together, they learn strategies for me and David to think about things differently. And it’s just one of the best groups I’ve ever run, really. So please, if you think you need any kind of support with your mental health, we know that some people do are just okay.
But others, they do want more support, and that’s okay too. It’s valid, just need that support. Please just kind of let someone know or get in touch with us directly. Yeah, I would echo that 100%. Laura. Yeah. Is there anything else that you think might be in part for them to know or do you think I think they would probably got a whistle, top store of everything we’ve ever done in stroke psychology. I think it’s I think but the for me it’s just remembering that yes, a stroke is a physical illness but it might have it might have an impact on your mental health. It might have an impact on your relationships and I guess someone think we’ve not mentioned is it can also have an impact on your cognition.
So what? People don’t always think about is when you’re brains hurt that that impacts your memory and your attention and your understanding and how quickly your brain can things through. And that’s another thing we offer in the community. We offer neuropsychological assessment to, to assess and in more detail some of the memory or cognitive difficulties you might be experiencing. So if that’s something that you’re concerned about, you know, what would happily accept a referral for that as well? So I hope all of you listen in a continuing to do well in your journey’s post stroke and potentially.
Me or David will see you on the ward in the future.
Thank you for joining us. Till next time you’ve been listening to NTH voices.
National Stroke Support
The Stroke Association
The Stroke Association is a national charity who provide information about Stroke and its effects, what happens after a Stroke and what help and support is available.
You may have many questions, be looking for some information and practical guidance, or simply want someone to talk to. The Stroke Association can support with all of this.
Helpline 0303 3033 100
National help services – Financial wellbeing
Money helper joins up money and pensions guidance to make it quicker and easier to find the right help. MoneyHelper brings together the support and services of three government-backed financial guidance providers: the Money Advice Service, the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise.
Phone 0800 1387777
Type Talk 1800108800915
Local Stroke Support
Social prescribers can support to improve health and wellbeing by helping identify what will make a difference and introducing individuals to community services in the Stockton area.
The aim is to:
- listen to individuals and understand your circumstances without judging
- reduce loneliness and isolation
- provide quality holistic and person-centered support
- provide information about services and activities that might benefit
- identify when further help is needed and help you to contact other organisations
- go with patients to initial appointments and meetings to help ease you into a new environment
Request a referral to a social prescriber from your GP
The Community Connect Service is here to listen, help you to connect with others, explore your interests and give you the confidence to access activities and local groups such as a walking group, creative arts group, exercise class or social group to support health and wellbeing. They can also signpost and support you to access other sources of support. Anyone over 16 can self-refer.
Phone 01642 647770
Email [email protected]
Hartlepool support hub
safe, stay well and stay connected.
The Support Hub offers:
- lots of information to help you stay safe and well
- support to help you meet new people and discover activities across the town
- advice to help you enjoy a healthier lifestyle, such as stopping smoking, exercising more and getting out and exploring Hartlepool’s open spaces and facilities
You can contact the Support Hartlepool Support Hub
If you or someone you know needs advice or support, Hartlepool Support Hub is still here to help.
Drop in to speak to somebody in person:
- Community Hub Central, York Road
- Community Hub South, Wynyard Road
Phone (Monday to Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm) 01429 272905
Drop in Monday to Friday –
Wellbeing for life
Our service aims to empower you to tell us what’s important to you and to support you to make choices that will benefit you and your life.
Our Wellbeing Practitioners will work with you over eight to twelve sessions to set a health plan, which will include small achievable goals that you would like to achieve. The one to one sessions typically last for one hour and is time for you to focus on yourself and what support you would like from the service.
Phone 0800 8766887
Active Health is a 12 week physical activity programme for adults who have one or more health conditions that are a barrier for them becoming more active. Participants on the scheme are referred by medical professionals who assess that physical activity may be helpful.
The scheme is designed to help participants manage and improve their conditions, along with their overall health and well-being, through increased physical activity levels, and sustainable behaviour changes.
If you are ready to increase your physical activity levels, make an appointment with your GP or Health Practitioner.
Billingham forum 01642 551381
Ingleby Barwick Leisure centre 01642 132020
Thornaby pool 01642 670971
Thornaby Pavillion 01642 760971
Stockton Splash 01642 660610
Tees Active: chair based classes
Active 8 Medimotion Bike exercises session.
Chairobics and mobility
Community Hub South, Wynyard Road
10:30 to 11:15am
Community Hub Central, York Road
1:30 to 2:30pm
Group session with individualised exercies
Community Hub South, Wynyard Road
12 to 1pm
Community Central Hub, York Road
3:20 to 3:15pm
Phone 01429 272905
Caring for a Stroke Survivor or need some support yourself?
This guide from the Stroke Association provides ways you can support a stroke survivor and explains what help and support is available for carers.
You can also receive support from your local council who can complete a personal assessment of needs for both the Stroke Survivor and their carer.