Living With Stroke education series starts Sept. 14 at Palmerston hospital

When Harriston resident Ken Fisk suffered a stroke in 1986 he leaned heavily on his wife, Irene, to help him regain movement in his left side and his ability to speak.

When he had two additional strokes within a few years, it was the same thing all over again – he turned to his wife for help returning to a normal life.

“She was the main steward of that,” Fisk said of his rehabilitation, adding the couple’s five grown children were also “quite a help” then, as they are now.

But other than the doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists at hospitals, who tended to focus on the technical side of his physical rehabilitation, there was no outside help for the Fisks. No one to tell Irene and the rest of the family what to expect from their husband and father. No one to fully explain what life after a stroke really entails.

So when he found out the Seniors’ Centre for Excellence in Mapleton has partnered with the Heart and Stroke Foun­dation to offer a six-week Living with Stroke education series, there was perhaps no one more pleased than Fisk.

“I think that’s a good idea,” he said of the series, which will take place at the Palmerston and District Hospital. “It’s a bit tough learning it firsthand.” 

Now 82, Fisk is hopeful the educational series, which starts Sept. 14, will help other families who have to deal with the effects of stroke.

“Nobody ‘recovers’ from a stroke,” he stressed, adding that  often stroke victims get as much out of rehabilitation as they’re willing to put in.

And according to Tammy Tebbutt, director of the Wat­er­loo-Wellington stroke program at Grand River Hospital, providing vital information for free can eliminate some of the hurdles.

Tebbutt will be leading the series, along with Sandra Good­year, the education coordinator for the district stroke program. She explained the series is aimed at stroke survivors and their families and has three main goals are:

– providing appropriate and practical education about stroke and stroke recovery;

– providing information about strategies for coping with changes caused by strokes; and

– identifying and reducing the barriers to engaging in recovery and reducing the risk of another stroke.

Tebbutt said the series was first offered in Kitchener this spring, with fantastic results.

“The feedback was really good,” she said, adding she ex­pects 20 to 25 people to attend the Palmerston series.

Specifically, the six-week series will address the following topics:

– understanding stroke;

– physical challenges and changes;

– swallowing and nutrition;

– cognition, perception and communication (including emo­tional changes);

– activities and relationships (including community re-integration); and

– reducing the risk of strokes and moving forward.

The series will commence Sept. 14 and take place every Monday afternoon – except for Thanksgiving on Oct. 12 – from 1 to 3pm at the Palmerston and District Hospital, until Oct. 26.

To register, contact the Seniors’ Centre for Excellence at 519-638-1000.