In the week prior to Christmas the Irish National Audit of Stroke launched their National Report for 2019 at a specially convened online webinar.
As a stroke survivor I was one of the speakers on the day. I have been advocating on behalf of stroke survivors with the Irish Heart Foundation since I suffered a stroke in 2013 and along with my advocacy I am also a member of the Irish National Audit of Stroke Governance Committee.
I was invited to be one of the guest speakers at the webinar and I told the participants that the report gives me great hope for the future and for the improvement of care, and of services, for those who suffer a stroke in this country.
I have been an advocate for stroke over the last few years because I believe that we need to give people hope for better outcomes and to show that there is life after stroke.
It is very important to remember that we, stroke survivors, are still the same person that we were before the stroke occurred.
Our needs and our life may have changed but to quote the French critic and author Jean-Baptiste Karr, “the more things change the more they stay the same”.
We are still the same but we must rely on the professionals that care for us to help us achieve improved outcomes that will result in a better life and a better future for us all.
I suffered a stroke in 2013 while I was doing an interview “live” on my local radio station, Tipperary Mid West Radio. As the interview was conducted on the telephone and I was not in the company of anyone else, I neglected to seek immediate help.
As a result of the stroke I am now passionate in trying to ensure that anyone that suffers a stroke does not fall into that category.
Never delay in seeking immediate help as “Time is Brian” and every second counts. In one second approx 32,000 brain cells die and while they can regenerate the delay in getting hospital treatment will undoubtedly impede that process.
Waking up (as I did) with limited use of the body in a state of confusion, without speech, memory or control is a terribly frightening experience, and requires expert and immediate hospital care, therefore act FAST as if your life depended on it, because it really does.
During the webinar I also welcomed the rolling out of a FAST (Face/Arms/Speech/ Telephone) campaign with the Irish Heart Foundation in partnership with the Government. However it needs to be an ongoing campaign as awareness is not confined to just ‘moments in time’.
What really concerns me is the % of people not presenting at hospital within the 3 hours of the onset of symptoms. 49% of people presenting within the timeframe means that there is a majority not presenting on time. We must make people aware of the necessity in seeking immediate help at the first onset of symptoms. Awareness is a key factor in ensuring a more successful outcome for survivors.
The report also highlights other issues such as access to dedicated stroke units, availability of CT scans on arrival, thrombolysis and thrombectomy procedures and access to the full suite of rehabilitation services and to the early discharge programme.
There is a lot to take from the report with many positive aspects in relation to developments in improving stroke care in hospitals throughout the country.
There is also of course much to be worked on as can be seen from the recommendations in the report, some of which will undoubtedly require additional resources and investment.
What is clear though is that if implemented these recommendations will greatly improve outcomes for anyone suffering a stroke in Ireland today, something that we all very much welcome.
Report is available @ https:// www. noca. ie/ documents/ irish- national-audit- of- stroke- 2019