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Making the shift from victim to survivor

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After having a stroke two years ago at the age of 39, former international swimmer Craig Pankhurst founded the charity Stroke of Luck to support stroke survivors through activity and exercise. Jessica Brown reports.

“Stroke survivors are in one of two places – they either see themselves as a victim, with a not very positive outlook,” Pankhurst says.

“Or they see their stroke as a bump in the road, but that no one will stop them from having a fulfilled life, just one that’s different to the one they were leading before.

“We put in a halfway line to move people from the victim to survivor mentality.”

Pankhurst wanted to build the charity’s website to enable interaction between stroke survivors and experts in neuropsychology and personal trainers trained to work with special population groups.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK in March, Pankhurst decided to do live sessions on social media, where he brought in guests and spoke about his experience and the charity he’s set up – and says he got good interaction with viewers.

His efforts caught the attention of the World Stroke Organisation, which partnered with Pankhurst to create videos for stroke survivors for what they can do to aid their recovery safely at home, with the help of specialist physiotherapists.

The videos are uploaded by both Stroke of Luck and the World Stroke Organisation.

“I spoke to the World Stroke Organisation over a number of weeks and we agreed to collaborate to create story-specific exercise and activity videos for stroke survivors, to start releasing over 12 weeks, to see if they get good engagement.

“Then we’ll carry on, and do some more,” he says.

The videos are now organised into a library, colour-coordinated into red, amber and green, depending on the viewer’s ability. The library also includes specific videos for carers.

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