Craig Pankhurst, a stroke survivor from the UK, has established an exciting new stroke support organisation that combines his pre and post stroke life to support the recovery of stroke survivors using physical exercise.
Married with two daughters, two dogs and a cat, Craig is a keen sports fan and spent his younger years swimming and playing football, becoming an international swimmer in the 1990s.
‘It was in the act of blinking my eyes at 6am that I first realised I was not in a good way. The overwhelming feeling of the room spinning uncontrollably, yet in darkness as my vision had gone, resulted in a feeling of dread and fear. Little did I realise that at the age of 39 I was in mid-ischemic stroke and that life was about to change forever’.
Craig was admitted to Arrowe Park hospital for CT and MRI scans, with friends and family by his side. He had significant damage to his brain, with further scans showing a dissection of the vertebral artery.
Craig’s biggest issue is post-stroke fatigue. ‘It is a dreadful experience that a sufferer has to live with every day. It is not like being tired’, says Craig. He manages his fatigue via a traffic light system. When he’s in his ’green zone’ Craig’s able to function pretty much as he could pre-stroke, albeit with a slight left-side weakness and concentration deficit. When in his ‘amber zone’, his speech and thought processes slow down and his left side weakness is more pronounced. In ‘red zone’, Craig becomes very limited in his movement and struggles to communicate effectively.
Craig has always been a very motivated individual who thrives on setting goals. He believes these traits will continue to support him in his recovery. ‘Under the care of the Walton Centre in Liverpool, I continue to manage my rehabilitation to ensure I am best placed to live a positive and full life. This is why I wanted to start a charity to inspire fellow stroke survivors to embrace their new life in a similar, positive way. Meeting other stroke survivors, I realised that self-image and self-esteem are significantly affected and after the initial rehabilitation phase patients are signed off to continue their recovery on their own, exacerbating this loss of confidence. What has really helped me has been to find a personal trainer and a gym that can support my physical recovery, improving my self-confidence. A Stroke of Luck will do the same for survivors who may not have the same expertise or resources to do this for themselves, and need a bit of support’.
A Stroke of Luck launched on 1st May 2019, only a few days after the first anniversary of Craig’s stroke, and the beginning of Stroke Awareness Month. There are over 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK and 100,000 new strokes each year. Over two thirds of these survivors leave hospital with a disability. ‘We need to provide the opportunity for survivors to get active and promote physical rehabilitation for the benefit of all’, says Craig.
A Stroke of Luck will match stroke survivors with fitness professionals to help them to get active. A web platform is being developed where stroke survivors will register to become a member of the ‘A Stroke of Luck Survivor’s Club’, with access to health and wellbeing advice as well as fitness videos.
Personal trainers will also register to become a member of the ‘A Stroke of Luck Expert’s Club’. Funding received by A Stroke of Luck will be converted to credits that can be used by the stroke survivor to book a session with a qualified A Stroke of Luck approved personal trainer.
Friday 6th September 2019 will be the official launch of the A Stroke of Luck membership portal. ‘We don’t just want stroke survivors to survive, we want them to THRIVE. We would like to enhance the lives of every stroke survivor, regardless of their post-stroke effects, by giving them access to long-term physical and emotional care following the discharge from medical professionals’, says Craig.
For more information and to support A Stroke of Luck:
Please visit the A Stroke of Luck website www.astrokeofluck.co.uk
This blog includes extracts from the Wirral Life article Stroke Survivor Launches New Charity https://www.wirrallife.com/digital-issue