North needs rehab centres for stroke sufferers

Wanneroo councillor Hugh Nguyen with Northern Suburbs Stroke Support Group members Dean Soraggi, Iris Deans, Sally Allen and Peter Coghlan.Picture: Martin Kennealey   d446081
Wanneroo councillor Hugh Nguyen with Northern Suburbs Stroke Support Group members Dean Soraggi, Iris Deans, Sally Allen and Peter Coghlan.Picture: Martin Kennealey d446081

STROKE survivors Peter Coghlan and Eddie McLeod shared their arduous recovery stories at a Wanneroo City council meeting recently.

Both touched on how drastically life changed for people who had strokes, the difficult road to recovering what was lost. They also supported a push for a local service, saying that access to rehabilitation in the northern suburbs was needed.

Mr Coghlan, a Marangaroo resident, had a major stroke in 2011 which left him “totally paralysed”.

“I lost my hearing, my eyesight, everything,” he told councillors at the November 10 meeting.

“Slowly I’ve learnt to talk again and walk again and eat again… it’s been a long journey for me.

“The point I would like to make today is that rehab, I had to do myself.

“I’ve been passionate about fixing myself; I was in the army for many years.”

Frustrated with a service he was offered after leaving hospital which took four to five hours of travel time to collect and drop home numerous patients for just one hour of rehabilitation a week, Mr Coghlan, now 38, decided to take his recovery into his own hands.

“I set my own rehab up outside my house… I got myself a rail and a little area and I trained like mad,” he said.

“I got to a point where I could pull myself out of my wheelchair and started practising up and down the garden and eventually I could walk to my local gym.

“The first few times I went I fell over on the pavement and cut my knee and legs.

“People were driving past thinking ‘look at that drunken sod’ as I’m rolling on the floor trying to get up and I’d have to crawl to the nearest lamp post to get up because I couldn’t get up properly.

“People shouldn’t have to do that.”

Mr Coghlan said he could have just sat at home and waited for his one hour a week with the professionals but it was not enough and he was “lucky” that his military background had given him his drive.

“But everyday people aren’t there, they haven’t got that background, they haven’t got that motivation, they can’t do it all themselves. They need professional help and one hour a week is not going to cut it really,” he said.

“I can’t really see how that one hour I used to get (at Shenton Park), people will go all the way to Fiona Stanley for. How are they ever going to get a life back?“It’s important to have some rehab that’s local to the northern area.”

In Mr McLeod’s case, it was his wife who first noticed his speech was slurred after a hit of golf before he suffered a stroke several years ago.

Following tests, he agreed to stay overnight at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital where he awoke unable to move.

“I was shocked, paralysed, no voice and then no movement in my right side,” he said.

Mr McLeod, who has a history in professional sport, spent about a month there and then a further month in Osborne Park Hospital before signing himself out hoping to recover more quickly on his own.

“I promptly booked a three-week holiday in Bali thinking I’d swim every day and exercise in the gymnasium,” he said.

“After nine days my hand was jumping and my leg was jumping.

“I couldn’t handle it, I had to cut my holiday short. That came through loud and clear that it wasn’t just something that I could fix even though I had a lot of experience in training, I was going to be this way inclined all the time.

“It’s a complete, 100 per cent change of lifestyle, nothing is the same, you drop things you pick up things and you can’t do it, but I struggle on.

“There are no terribly convenient facilities for exercise programs at this stage, so that’s why I’m here to tell my story.”

The Northern Suburbs Stroke Support Group meet at the Wanneroo Recreation Centre, Scenic Drive, at 3pm on the second Friday of each month. Call 9403 3456.

Also read: Hope for stroke sufferers