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Ask Kate: Putting young stroke survivors’ issues under the spotlight

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Ask Kate

I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity to write this new column for Stroke Rehab Times. ‘Ask Kate’ will be a ground-breaking column that finally puts the stroke young survivor’s voice front and centre, where it should be.

So why was I chosen to shine a spotlight on the stuff that matters to young stroke survivors?

Well, you could say I’m like a bad penny.

Since surviving a brainstem stroke and Locked In Syndrome in 2010 at just 39 years old, I’ve been passionately campaigning for all young stroke and Locked-in Syndrome survivors.

For those who don’t know, Locked-in Syndrome is a rare and catastrophic disorder that can result from a brain stem stroke.

The illness rendered me unable to move a single muscle below my eyelids, though I could still think, feel, see, hear and understand everything going on around me.

I, nor any of the 700+ global patients I’ve helped since, was actually ever vegetative. I just couldn’t communicate. Think ‘buried alive’ and you’ll get the idea.

However, while the medical prognosis following a right infraction, occlusion and dissection of the Pons is usually pretty poor, I made an astonishing recovery.

My recovery blew the minds of the global medical community and I was propelled into the public’s consciousness through numerous media appearances.

This led to huge global demand for my unique insight and just three months after leaving hospital, I had set up registered charity, Fighting Strokes.

I have to stress that I was never the purveyor of false hope, as assumed by some. But nor did I quash all hope. Our young stroke charity strapline was simply: ‘No promises, just possibilities’.

Through my charity work, I’m proud to have helped a marginalised, frightened and often overlooked subgroup in society.

I’ve also pioneered research, written an internationally renowned book, delivered a TEDx talk, established the global Stroke Survivors Day, become a leading stroke ambassador for GripAble and began training stroke therapists about why sex after stroke should matter to occupational therapists.

In this new column, I want to lift the lid on issues and taboos that affect young stroke survivors. I’ll be taking on sex and intimacy, returning to work, peer mentoring, social prescribing, motivation and goal training, nutrition, parenting and much more.

It will be a true privilege to be the voice for young stroke survivors worldwide. I hope that my insights, discussions and commentary will be an invaluable resource for stroke therapists to support us stroke survivors in becoming the best version of ourselves.

But this is a space where your therapist views matter.

I sincerely hope you will reach out to me on Twitter with your thoughts, gains, critiques, ideas and aspirations so that we can all continue to make a difference to the lives and wellbeing of young stroke survivors who don’t necessarily want to be retired off at 40!

Spoiler alert: I’m already very excited about my first ‘Ask Kate’ column in January 2022 so watch this space.

Let’s just say that stroke therapists, especially occupational therapists, have the power to make young stroke survivors very happy and fulfilled. Call it a Christmas gift from me to you.

@KateAllatt

Dr Kate Allatt: Stroke survivor, internationally published author, charity founder, GripAble ambassador & inspirational leadership speaker 

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