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Lack of understanding leaves stroke survivors 'isolated and misunderstood'

Credit: PA Images

There is a lack of support for stroke survivors because most people do not understand what a stroke is and how it affects people, according to a new survey by the Stroke Association.

The findings suggest more than a quarter of the population do not know that a stroke occurs in the brain.

Although two thirds of adults in Wales know someone who has had a stroke, most admit a lack of awareness and understanding needed to support stroke survivors in their recovery.

41%
of respondents admitted they lacked the knowledge to know how to help a stroke survivor.

This "knowledge gap" is preventing survivors getting the support they need from those closest to them, and stopping survivors from making the best possible recovery to rebuild their lives after stroke.

Father-of-two Dave Jones from Ammanford was 36-years-old when he had a stroke in 2017. He had a headache and dizziness and had to leave work. His condition worsened and two days later woke up unable to see.

Dave Jones had a stroke when he was 36 Credit: Stroke Association

I was fairly young and fit, I regularly went to the gym; I never even considered that I could be having a stroke.

A scan showed I’d had a bleed in my brain and I was told I was lucky to be alive. When my sight did return I had double vision and I still struggle with short term memory loss, fatigue and controlling my emotions.

– Dave Jones, Stroke survivor

The findings also reveal the damaging effects that stroke can have on social networks and relationships.

More than one in six of those who know a stroke survivor, admitted spending less time with them because the latter was perceived as not being the same person following the stroke.

Dave joined a Stroke Association group for younger male stroke survivors in Carmarthenshire, which has been a huge support.

I found out who my true friends were after the stroke. Some just didn’t interact with me again, so meeting other survivors like me has been so important.

“It’s helped me learn that it’s not about getting back to how you were before the stroke, but about taking smaller steps to rebuild your life in a different way. And you need everyone to understand that so they can support you.

– Dave Jones, Stroke survivor

The Stroke Association is now launching a campaign called Rebuilding Lives.

It aims to showcase the challenges faced by stroke survivors and those who support them with their recoveries.

This report highlights the complexity of stroke and raises the desperate need amongst people to understand the impact of stroke in order to better support their loved ones.

That’s pretty shocking considering there are almost 70,000 stroke survivors living in Wales, many of whom are reliant on their friends and family, from help with daily living to understanding their emotional and mental health needs.

– Carol Bott, Director of the Stroke Association in Wales