Mike's Road to Recover - Life After a Stroke

Did you know one in four people globally will have a stroke at some point in their life? And that more than 56,000 strokes will be experienced by Australian’s this year alone? One thing many people might not know about stroke is that 45% of people who experience a stroke suffer pushing impairment following their stroke. This impairment means they are physically pushing themselves to one side (their affected side) without realising they are doing it. Pushing impairment can be minor, but it can also be a major problem for some patients, making them unable to sit up, let alone stand or walk.

Mike is 67 and up until last year when he suffered a major stroke, he was a train driver who travelled Australia carrying freight. He was an active 67 year old who had a passion for
swimming and golf on his days off. Mike lives in Adelaide with his lovely wife Di.

One day in June last year Mike travelled to Perth from Adelaide for work. After an exhausting trip he went to his accommodation for the night where he had a stroke. Mike had been on the floor unconscious for over 8 hours when his work colleagues found him and immediately called an ambulance.

When Mike’s stroke was realised, doctors called his partner Di, who was told she should definitely make the trip from Adelaide to Perth due to the severity of his condition.
“I was shattered when I heard the news, absolutely shattered,” says Di. “We didn’t know if he would even survive, we were preparing for him not to make it. “But somehow Mike pulled through, he was unconscious for a few days and then semi-conscious for another few days but then one day while he was semiconscious, he squeezed my hand,” says Di.

Di believes it was Mike’s tenacity and sense of humour that got him through. When Mike regained consciousness, it was apparent that he was affected by pushing impairment to the point that he couldn’t sit up independently, and he was pushing himself over to his weak left side. This meant that he faced additional challenges on top of his memory, the use of his limbs, his speech, his vision, and his ability to concentrate.

Mike needed rehabilitation, and luckily for him Jess Nolan, senior physiotherapist at Osborne Park Hospital was exactly the right person to help.

Jess has received two research grants from the Foundation over the past wo years studying the implications of pushing impairment after stroke, it’s impact on rehabilitation length
of stay, functional outcome, and ability of an affected stroke survivor to return home.

This will help care providers to better plan for care and allocate resources, potentially leading to improved long-term outcomes for those with pushing impairment after stroke.

“There really isn’t much research around pushing impairments and I see it every day so I really wanted to understand it better and wanted to know how it was affecting our patients not just throughout their rehab but following that too,” says Jess.

“Jess was amazing,” agree Mike and Di. “She and the team at Osborne Park really helped push me to do better,” says Mike.

Jess speaks very highly of Mike and says he always put a smile on their faces when doing physio. Since his stroke Mike has come a long way. He has learnt to walk again; he is back playing golf regularly and he is even back to swimming. This is a huge achievement, especially given that he does it with the use of just one arm. Mike still struggles to use his left arm
following his stroke; however, Mike and Di are working hard with a range of healthcare professionals to encourage movement and stability in his arm.

But the biggest thing Mike says he’s done since his stroke is marry Di. “I am very lucky to have Di, she stuck by me through everything and she helps me get better every day, I’ve got a good one,” he says. “After we got married, we drove off into the sunset with Mike driving a golf cart, our friends had tied cans to the back of the cart, it was such a nice day,” reflect
Mike and Di.

Although Mike is still in the process of getting himself better back in Adelaide, he says the doctors, nurses and physiotherapists here in WA were outstanding and he is adamant that
they played a big role in getting him to where he is today.

It’s your support that helps people like Mike every single day. You have made a real difference.

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