Friday, March 24, 2023

Stroke survivors hold dinner to spread information

Stroke survivor Garry Wills says encouraging people who have suffered stroke to go on rehabilitation shortly after an attack, speeds up their recovery and regaining use of affected limbs. Addressing a Stroke Support Group (SSG) Dinner Meeting in Gaborone recently, Wills, who is also Livingstone Kolobeng College Managing Director, lamented the practice of withholding rehabilitation and physiotherapy only after discharge from hospital to bed rest. Introducing remedial action at a later stage not only impedes stroke patients’ chances of early recovery but also brings along retrogressive stigma associated with confinement.

Wills, who is a strong proponent of early rehabilitation, said he could still be a bed ridden paraplegic had he not disregarded medical doctors advice on discharge from hospital, after suffering a stroke.

“After suffering a stroke, without strong will power, self determination and defiance, the abilities to walk, perform housework or drive become an unattainable nightmare,” said Willia. “I insisted on going abroad for rehabilitation against professional advice. Having successfully overcome the preliminary phases, I garnered courage and took a bold step and have since resumed driving without use of an assistant.”

He said the formation of a local SSG chapter of the Irish Heart Foundation (IHF) provides help, information and a social outlet for stroke survivors, their families and friends. Adoption of IHF’s format for planning, developing, staffing and facilitation by the Group also enables survivors an opportunity to share experiences vital in dealing with the effects of stroke.

The SSG common objectives include promoting a positive outlook to rehabilitation; encouraging survivors and their families to create realistic expectations of self care; providing a supportive environment helping members to accept their changed lives. Apart from providing information on stroke professional guidance, coping strategies and an informal meeting setting, the forum dispels surrounding myths. The mix of physical, mental and emotional stimulation fosters adaptation.

The Group’s steering committee, of which Wills and another stroke survivor, Bakhwi Kablay, are members, will help in testing ideas and establishing a focused Support Group. Announcing the 2013 Stroke Awareness Campaign, Kablay, who is the founder of the Stroke Awareness Touch A Life Wazha Centre launched in Gaborone in September 2012, said SSG is helping Batswana learn about stroke recognition, emergency response, rehabilitation and support.

“Elevating stroke in the minds of everyone, supporting research, education and reducing risk, understanding emotional, physical and financial impacts and influencing health best practices are key issues,” said Kablay. “And so is dialogue at the highest political level and providing a forum for survivors and families to discuss experiences and living with dignity. Stroke survivors’ voices are important because they possess the most influential and inspiring knowledge needed to make a positive impact on society.”


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