Posted: July 12 2019
Professional musician, Mick Flynn
Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the UK with one in six people having a stroke in their lifetime. According to statistics released by Public Health England (PHE), 57,000 people had their first-time stroke in 2016.
Awareness is crucial in both the prevention and treatment of a stroke and that’s exactly what PHE’s Act FAST campaign urges.
One person who heeded the warnings of the campaign was Mick Flynn, 73, from Rickmansworth in Hertfordshire. Six months ago, the musician, originally from Melbourne Australia, suffered a stroke in his home. Mick begins the story: “I was OK, bit wobbly from what I thought was a bad night’s sleep but I was OK. I was on the phone with a friend and noticed that my speech sounded odd. I looked in the mirror and noticed that the left side of my mouth had drooped downwards. I knew exactly what it was.”
A visit to Watford General Hospital soon confirmed Mick and his wife Donna’s fears, he had suffered a stroke. Mick continues: “The hospital was amazing, they were incredible, you couldn’t wish to be in a better place when this happens. I mean people knock the NHS but they were absolutely fantastic.”
After a stay in hospital, which included the first round of physiotherapy, Mick was allowed to come home. The Stroke Association states that the quickest recovery takes place in the days and weeks after a stroke, so at 9.15am the next morning, two Occupational Therapists (OT) from Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust (HCT) rang his doorbell and his rehabilitation journey and road to recovery in his own home began.
One of the OTs, Jane Murray, continues: “Initially we worked on the basic day-to-day things in the home but it was important to set goals in a patients rehab journey and for Mick that involved his two passions, golf and playing his guitar.”
The Stroke Association’s latest State of the Nation report reveals that in the UK almost two thirds (65%) of stroke survivors leave hospital with a disability. Around three quarters of stroke survivors have arm or leg weakness with communication also affected in around a third of stroke survivors.
With Mick’s left side being affected by the stroke he admits to feeling vulnerable when he first came home: “I thought I’d never move my hand again, it was a real worry.”
Rehabilitation was the key to unlocking Mick’s worries but as is often the way it’s the mental side of things that create the biggest obstacles: “When they first came, they had me moving children’s toys and squeezing putty in my hands. I thought this is ridiculous, I’m never getting anywhere if I’m doing this but with them coming three times a week and me continuing the exercises when they’d gone, I could see the progress I was making, it was fantastic.”
OT Jane Murray echoes Mick’s comments: “We were seeing him intensively for six weeks and I could see weekly changes within him. He would participate enthusiastically in our hour long sessions and crucially would carry that on when we had gone.”
Six months on, Mick says he’s almost there, about “90 per cent” there in fact. “I’m playing my guitar again, even bending strings and gigging and I couldn’t have done it without the OTs and physios, they saved my life.”
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