PALMYRA mother and daughter Nichola and Beth Browning are teaming up to help young stroke survivors, less than a year after Beth suffered a stroke aged just 19.
They have been selected to be part of the Young Stroke Project, which will assist working age Australians aged 18-65 cope with life after a stroke.
Every day about 20 Australians under the age of 65 suffer a stroke.
Beth, who is now studying nursing at university, said she is determined to ensure other working age survivors do not feel alone in their recovery and are able to navigate the health system effectively.
“While I was in hospital, there was no one I could talk to who understood what I was going through, and most of the resources I was given were targeted at older people,’’ she said.
“This experience has made me extremely passionate to make changes to how people are managed after having a stroke, specifically those who are much younger.”
“There is a lot to get your head around. I am lucky my speech returned quickly and I have made a good recovery physically, but hidden issues like headaches, fatigue and psychological challenges linger.”
Stroke Foundation national manager Jude Czerenkowski said there was currently very little age-appropriate information available for younger stroke survivors, many of whom have children, careers and financial responsibilities.
“Almost 90 percent of younger stroke survivors have specific needs relevant to their stage of life, they are telling us these needs are not being met,’’ she said.
“Stroke Foundation’s Young Stroke Project will aim to close those gaps and give younger people with stroke tools to empower them to live well.
“Information will be available when, where and how it is needed – including videos, podcasts and blogs.”
A total of 96 percent of young stroke survivors report having ongoing needs after their stroke, and 88 percent report unmet needs across health, everyday living, leisure activities, employment and finance – greater than older stroke survivors.
Despite being a nurse of 32 years, Nichola says she was quickly overwhelmed when Beth was rushed to hospital.
“When my fit and healthy daughter Beth had a stroke so young, it came as a huge shock,” Nichola said.
“From the moment Beth was in hospital having scans and tests, I had to advocate on her behalf to get the information, support and advice we needed.
“There were definite gaps in support services, especially after discharge.
“I had to be nurse, carer, counsellor and case manager more than I could be mum. It was exhausting and worrying.
“On top of that, I had the additional challenge of no family support, two school-aged children to care for and work commitments.”
The Young Stroke Project is seeking feedback from stroke survivors, their partners and families on areas that need more support like study and employment, relationships and parenting, recreation and self-care, grief and acceptance, and navigating the health system.
To find out more go to https://youngstrokeproject.org.au