PEER LEADER: Shane Isles uses his own experience to help others adapt to life after a stroke. Photo: Eliza Goetze / NewsMail
PEER LEADER: Shane Isles uses his own experience to help others adapt to life after a stroke. Photo: Eliza Goetze / NewsMail Eliza Goetze

Strokes don't discriminate: Shane's story

"STROKES don't discriminate,” Shane Isles said.

"They can happen at any age.”

Shane knows this first hand.

Six years ago at the age of 30, the recreation officer at Bundaberg Hospital's Palliative, Acute Rehabilitation and Acute Stroke Unit suffered a stroke himself.

On the long road to recovery, he found himself unable to do the simplest of tasks, like tying his own shoe laces.

"I kept comparing everything to how I was before the stroke,” he said.

"You can't do that - instead you just learn to do things differently.”

Shane now uses his experience to relate to his own patients in his work with the PARAS Unit's STEPS program.

While strokes are more commonly associated with older people - about half of all strokes occur in people over 75 - young people are occasionally affected by stroke, sometimes at the peak of their working lives, according to Queensland Health, and death rates from stroke in economically disadvantaged areas of Queensland are 12% higher than the state average.

ROLE MODELS: Bundaberg Hospital PARAS Unit's Robert Scott, Daniel Somerfield, Ashton Isles and Shane Isles.
ROLE MODELS: Bundaberg Hospital PARAS Unit's Robert Scott, Daniel Somerfield, Ashton Isles and Shane Isles. Eliza Goetze

Skills to Enable People and Communities is a volunteer program that helps people between 18 and 65, and their families, adapt to life after a stroke.

"The biggest challenge, especially for young people, after a stroke is the loss of independence,” Shane said.

"Being able to share your experiences in a group environment, with others going through similar circumstances, is helpful in itself.

"While you do have your family and friends, STEPS adds an additional support network that can aid your recovery post stroke.”

He discovered the program three years ago and says he wishes he had found it sooner. Now he gets satisfaction from volunteering as a peer leader.

"Seeing people gain confidence and make progress in their independence - that's the most rewarding thing.”

Acute Stroke Team Leader Daniel Somerfield said there were many different factors that could cause a stroke at any age.

"Sometimes there's nothing you can do to avoid a stroke, but often there is, and that's why it's so important to get the message out there so that people can prevent it from happening,” he said.

"Your big risks are hypertension, blood pressure, and social factors like drinking, smoking and sedentary lifestyle.”

When a stroke happens, act F.A.S.T.

The National Stroke Foundation recommends the F.A.S.T. test as an easy way to remember the most common signs of stroke.

Using the F.A.S.T. test involves asking these simple questions:

Face Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?

Arms Can they lift both arms?

Speech Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?

Time Is critical. If you see any of these signs call 000 straight away.

Read more about stroke symptoms here.



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