Cur­ing the prob­lem one stroke at a time

Kyabram Free Press - - WEDNESDAY EXTRA -

WHILE Na­tional Stroke Week may be over for an­other year, the ef­fects of stroke do not have an end date for many in our re­gion.

One of Aus­tralia’s big­gest killers and a lead­ing cause of dis­abil­ity, stroke has left its dev­as­tat­ing im­print on far too many lives in Kyabram and be­yond.

Kyabram’s Gwenda Smith was just one lo­cal whose life was ir­repara­bly al­tered by the med­i­cal emer­gency.

Suf­fer­ing a stroke in 2008 when she was 65, Gwenda was left with one side weak­ened and dif­fi­cul­ties with ex­pres­sive com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Through­out the sub­se­quent years, Gwenda’s hus­band John walked be­side her as she strug­gled to ad­just to the changes.

What were for­merly sim­ple ac­tiv­i­ties such as show­er­ing, dress­ing, get­ting in and out of bed and be­ing in­volved in the com­mu­nity were sud­denly ag­o­nis­ingly dif­fi­cult.

In many ways, Gwenda – with John al­ways by her side – had to re­turn to square one, re-ed­u­cat­ing her al­tered body to carry out ev­ery­day tasks.

“It is a life­long jour­ney fol­low­ing a stroke – but John says he wouldn’t have it any other way,” Kyabram District Health Ser­vices (KDHS) pri­mary health care man­ager Court­ney Bax­ter said.

“He would do it all again for Gwen. He’s con­tin­u­ing to seek out ways to meet her needs so she can live a full and fruit­ful life as she did be­fore her stroke.”

John Smith en­cour­ages lo­cals to learn more about the long term im­pacts a stroke can have on the in­di­vid­ual, as well as car­ers and fam­ily.

As part of stroke week, KDHS has worked to raise aware­ness of th­ese im­pacts in ad­di­tion to ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple on the signs of stroke: One side of the face droop­ing, mus­cle weak­ness on one side of the body and speech dif­fi­cul­ties.

Strokes oc­cur when the sup­ply of blood to the brain is sud­denly dis­rupted, and the longer it re­mains un­treated, the greater the brain dam­age.

With stroke an ev­er­loom­ing threat in Cam­paspe Shire, Ms Bax­ter can’t press the im­por­tance of stroke aware­ness enough – or the need to tackle pre­ventable risks.

“The Cam­paspe pop­u­la­tion has a sub­stan­tially poorer health and well­be­ing sta­tus com­pared to the re­gional and state av­er­ages for Vic­to­ria, in par­tic­u­lar in re­la­tion to high blood pres­sure (36.8 per cent com­pared to 25.9 per cent) and smok­ing rates (21.9 per cent com­pared to 13.1 per cent),” Ms Bax­ter said.

“Avoid­able deaths in Cam­paspe as­so­ci­ated with car­dio­vas­cu­lar sys­tem dis­eases – which is in­clu­sive of stroke – is sig­nif­i­cantly higher at 49.3 per cent com­pared to 33.7 per cent for the state av­er­age.”

“If you have con­cerns about your blood pres­sure and risk for stroke speak with your lo­cal doc­tor.”

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