Know the signs of stroke

Jenny Hadley with occupational therapist Shannan Bird encourages locals to learn the signs of stroke.

Local resident Jenny Hadley is encouraging people in the north east community to think FAST and learn the signs of stroke. Jenny who was admitted to Northeast Health Wangaratta following a stroke is excited about participating in information sessions for staff and community members to promote National Stroke Week.

National Stroke Week runs from 4th – 10th September and is the Stroke Foundation’s annual campaign to raise awareness about the devastating impact of a stroke and how early detection can improve outcomes and save lives. Know the signs – F.A.S.T

FACE – check their face. Has their mouth drooped?

ARMS – can they lift both arms?

SPEECH – is their speech slurred?  Do they understand you?

TIME – is critical.  If you see any of these signs call 000 straight away

Time is critical in treating stroke. Paramedics, nurses and doctors can only help if you join the FAST Response Team and dial 000 at the first sign of stroke. Stroke is always a medical emergency. “It is easy to remember and could save your own life or that of a loved one,’’ Jenny said. Stroke can be treated. But people need to get to a hospital quickly.”

Northeast Health embraces these principles and joins the Stroke Week campaign with daily staff training, raising awareness and commitment to improve the outcomes for all stroke survivors. Training during this week covers the wide spectrum of care from early intervention, rehabilitation for a person having sustained a stroke, the use of robotics in rehabilitation, reintegration back into the community and hearing from a stroke survivor.

Successful rehabilitation is not enough here at Northeast Health. The dynamic allied health team strives to ensure the best outcomes are achieved for all stroke patients. The past year has seen the expansion of the enriched environment within the Thomas Hogan Rehabilitation Centre (THRC). The project is guided by evidence and, importantly, feedback from stroke survivors and their families. Stroke survivors have had the opportunity to participate in groups, increased therapy practice, outdoor activities and more family involvement. The key outcome of this innovative initiative is to improve the stroke rehabilitation patient’s outcomes by providing a varied, stimulating environment and increasing patient activity levels to include weekends and evening times.  The positive environment enables the patient’s best possible outcome.

Jenny, who sustained visual changes as a result of her stroke describes how through intensive rehabilitation she is achieving her overall goal to be able to return home. “The staff have been wonderful and I am working on being able to look after myself when I return home”

The other area of focus has been the establishment of the Early Supported Discharge program at Northeast Health for patients who have had a stroke. This builds on the improvements of THRC assisting the person to prepare to return home sooner and receive intensive therapy from home. Jenny is hopeful that through this program she will continue to work on her goals of reintegrating back into the community.