Mary Lockhart suffered a stroke in December 2011. She received the clot busting drug thrombolysis, but went on to have 2 further strokes shortly after. She spent 2 months in hospital and received physiotherapy, but she has been left with right sided weaknesses, and walks with a brace on her leg. As a farm owner Mary still tried to maintain her duties, but while on a tractor in July 2012 she fell and broke her hip.
Mary found out about the PREP service from her local NICHS Stroke Family Support co–ordinator. Until then, she had not been feeling motivated or inclined to concentrate on her health and wellbeing. She went along to the group and describes the overall impact of attending the PREP service “I could see a better future for myself”.
The exercise programme, which consists of a circuit of specific exercises and movements for people with stroke, helped with her fitness. She says she feels back to what she was before she broke her hip. She continues to maintain the exercises, albeit in a somewhat unusual location – a barn! Mary uses the 15 minutes it takes to fill a trough for her beloved cows to do the exercises she learned in PREP. This way she gets to view her animals and enjoy the outdoors, while looking after herself. She also invested in a treadmill, which she feels help stimulate her body to make her feel good.
Mary says PREP “answered a lot of questions for her” and “she learned to learn”
She listened to talks the education aspect of the programme delivers e.g. learning about the harmful chemicals in cigarettes to the dangers of too much salt in food. She would recommend the programme to anyone who has experienced a stroke and she feels that those who do should come along and listen to the information and advice on offer. She also appreciates the encouragement and motivation from the NICHS staff and physiotherapist and says that she can not praise them highly enough, and comments she drew “inspiration” from the volunteers who had been through the programme themselves.
She said she began to listen to her body, and now she rests when she needs to and exercises when she can. She believes each time she exercises she feels an immediate response from her body and she feels better for it. Because of the overall confidence and motivation from the programme, she is now completing a GCSE in Computers, looking after her farm and helping raise awareness of the PREP programme and the importance for stroke survivors to look after their minds and bodies.
Find out more about the stroke support that Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offers.