In a cel­e­bra­tion of life

> Nasam is or­gan­is­ing the first Stroke Games for sur­vivors and their fam­ily and friends on March 4 next year

The Sun (Malaysia) - - ZEST - JEREMY CHEONG

IT ISN’T un­com­mon these days to know of some­one who has suf­fered and is re­cov­er­ing from a stroke or has lost a loved one due to this dis­ease. Ac­cord­ing to sta­tis­tics, stroke is one of the top five causes of death and top 10 causes of hos­pi­tal­i­sa­tion here in Malaysia and glob­ally.

Stroke sur­vivors and their care­givers usu­ally face a steep up­hill bat­tle, as sur­vivors are highly likely to go through pe­ri­ods of de­pres­sion and some may even end up hav­ing sui­ci­dal thoughts as they of­ten feel afraid, frus­trated and help­less.

This was how Janet Yeo felt when she suf­fered a stroke 26 years ago, at the age of 44.

For this founder chair­man of the Na­tional Stroke As­so­ci­a­tion of Malaysia (Nasam), she man­aged to over­come the chal­lenges of the dis­ease with the sup­port of her lov­ing fam­ily and friends.

Now, she can proudly say she has “lived a stroke” and wants to share with the world that “there is life af­ter stroke”.

That is why she came up with the idea of or­gan­is­ing the very first Stroke Games in con­junc­tion with Nasam’s 20th an­niver­sary cel­e­bra­tion.

This spe­cial event will be held on March 4, next year, at the Pana­sonic Na­tional Sports Com­plex in Shah Alam.

Some 800 stroke sur­vivors, fam­ily and friends from Nasam’s nine clubs na­tion­wide are ex­pected to come to­gether for a day of ac­tiv­i­ties to raise the spir­its of stroke sur­vivors.

“The Stroke Games is born out of the be­lief that sport and play­ing games heals the brain,” said Yeo at a re­cent event to un­veil the Games logo.

“It will pro­vide a plat­form for stroke sur­vivors to over­come chal­lenges and in­spire them to com­pete with one another in a spirit of sports­man­ship and ca­ma­raderie.

“Af­ter a stroke, ap­pro­pri­ate and ag­gres­sive re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion is cru­cial. Par­tic­i­pat­ing in a sport or games not only pro­vides phys­i­cal ben­e­fits but also con­trib­utes to im­prov­ing cog­ni­tion, body aware­ness and spa­tial ori­en­ta­tion.

“In ad­di­tion to the ther­a­peu­tic ben­e­fits, play­ing games pro­vide stress re­lief, builds team spirit and im­proves so­cial skills.”

Also present at the event was Nasam pa­tron Toh Puan Aishah Ong, who had ex­pe­ri­enced first­hand the tri­als of car­ing for her late hus­band, a stroke vic­tim.

She said: “The Stroke Games is a tes­ta­ment [to our state­ment] that there is ‘life af­ter stroke’ [and for] stroke sur­vivors … to demon­strate their faith in them­selves, their in­ner strength and amaz­ing abil­i­ties.

“Ul­ti­mately, we are cel­e­brat­ing the achieve­ments stroke sur­vivors make on the road to re­cov­ery – the out­stand­ing coura­geous steps they have taken in re­build­ing their lives [for] a brighter to­mor­row.”

Sur­vivors par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Stroke Games will take part in 34 sport­ing ac­tiv­i­ties – eight in­di­vid­ual and 26 group chal­lenges, which in­clude ta­ble tennis, darts, bowl­ing, carom, ob­sta­cle walk, ba­ton re­lay and bas­ket­ball.

These sport­ing ac­tiv­i­ties have been care­fully se­lected and mod­i­fied by Nasam’s Re­hab Train­ing and Devel­op­ment head Qamer Iqbal Khan to be safe and stress-free for the par­tic­i­pants.

Qamer added: “The de­gree of mod­i­fi­ca­tion is based on the sever­ity and im­pact of the stroke.

“For ex­am­ple, bas­ket­ball and darts will be played stand­ing as well as sit­ting on a chair. So whether you are in a wheel­chair or walk­ing in­de­pen­dently, the ex­pe­ri­ence will def­i­nitely be en­joy­able, fun and, at the same time, aid re­cov­ery.”

Nasam is now look­ing for vol­un­teers and spon­sors to help with the Games.

The as­so­ci­a­tion wel­comes cash or kind such as free ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion or trans­porta­tion for par­tic­i­pants and their care­givers as well as do­na­tions of T-shirts and tro­phies.

For more, visit the Nasam web­site.

(left) Yeo (left) and Ong with the Games logo.

(clock­wise, from above) Some of the sport­ing ac­tiv­i­ties planned for the Games.

(right) Stere­og­no­sis ac­tiv­i­ties to re­ha­bil­i­tate sur­vivors’ sense of touch.

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