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Life after stroke

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As we observe National Stroke Week, we look at new advances in physiotherapy that contribute to the recovery of patients
Affluence and increasingly efficient technology have given us improved quality of life, increased life expectancy and increased comfort in our daily lives.
And yet, we’ve seen a simultaneous increase in certain disorders such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, mental disorders and strokes.
During National Stroke Week (14-20 September), we take the opportunity to learn more about the signs of stroke and the rehabilitation process after stroke has occurred.

The impact of stroke on mental health is severe and it affects not only the stroke patient but also caregivers and family members. Stroke survivors could be depressed, anxious, agitated, irritated and more importantly may not be even able to express the feelings due to the limited communication they have.
Yet, thanks to advances in medical technology, there can be life after stroke.
Raj Singh, a Brisbane-based physiotherapist, has contributed immensely to the recovery of people affected by stroke. Many of Raj’s patients have persevered with the rehabilitation programs that he has designed, and some have even participated in the last two Bridge to Brisbane five kilometre walks.

For his commitment to his cause, Raj was a finalist at last year’s Stroke Awards instituted by the National Stroke Foundation, in the Stroke Care Champion category. The Stroke Awards are a way of thanking stroke survivors, carers, health professionals and volunteers who improve the state of stroke in Australia.
The categories include the Life After Stroke Award, Stroke Care Champion Award (in conjunction with the Stroke Society of Australasia), Creative Award, and Fundraiser of the Year. It was while training as a young undergraduate physiotherapist in Benares, India, that Raj Singh became fascinated with the brain and the impact of brain injury.
He came to the University of Queensland to pursue a Masters program. Here, he specialised in the neurological aspects of physiotherapy.
“Time is of importance when dealing with an evolving stroke,” Raj tells Indian Link. “The faster a person gets to hospital, the higher the chances of recovery. Specialised medical and paramedical intervention is vital for stroke patients.”
We need to act FAST, says Raj. If you observe symptoms such as distortion of Face, numbness and weakness of Arms or slurring of Speech, then Time should not be lost in seeking tertiary medical help.

“An active rehabilitation program can work wonders for patients when combined with the latest medical treatments,” Raj observes. “I treat stroke survivors not as patients but as ‘athletes’, and sometimes, like a sports coach, have to show tough love for them to get to their goals.”
Taking the sport centric approach works well not only for the physical rehabilitation but also the mental aspects like motivation and self-esteem.
Raj plans to conduct a long-term study on the walking therapy and intends to publish his findings in scientific journals.
And what would he advise we should do, to prevent strokes? “Keep active. Follow the principles of a nutritious balanced diet. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Get enough sleep. Go for regular check-ups. And act FAST if you observe the signs and symptoms of stroke.”
Risk factors for stroke

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Family history of strokes
  • Smoking
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
Vish Chilumkurti
Vish Chilumkurti
Freelance Columnist, Incorrigible Time Traveller and a Failed Cook.

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