Living with Disability: Interview with stroke survivor, Ena

Today, we have a special interview with stroke survivor and author Ena Abenabe who has been living with the after-effects of a stroke. Ena speaks to us about her challenges have been and teaches us what the true meaning of strength is with her positive outlook on life.

We also provide some much needed insight into stroke in young people and how physiotherapy can help in the aftermath.

Read below!

1. Please tell us a bit about why you and how you view your physical condition?

My name is Ena, I am 26 years old and a lawyer also an Author. I’m a stroke survivor. I am strong and beautiful and brave, I’m the type that tells the world and it’s difficulties “bring it on and I’ll beat you to stupor and move on because ‘give up is not an option’.

2. How pertinent is the need for disability support groups in Nigeria?

“This too shall pass” that’s how I look at my physical condition and I move with my life not minding the after effects of stroke. As you can see I wrote a book, I didn’t let anything stop me. If there is a stroke survivor group in Nigeria, I would like to met them. I thought I was alone until I met fellow stroke survivors on instagram. None of them is a Nigerian, really sad. It’s very important to have a group that helps people, makes them happy and shows them the easiest way to do things.

3. What is the reality of living with a physical challenges in Nigeria?

First, I don’t see myself as disabled, and you can see I avoided using the term “disability” in the former question. I live my life as a normal human being that I am, even opened an Instagram handle to kill the thought of “disability” it’s called “@nodisabilityonlyability
So i’m the wrongest person to ask this question. If you have a dream to succeed, don’t ever let a health challenge to stop you.

4. Please describe the challenges you face on a daily basis.

My right hand sometimes frustrates me, but I’m working hard to see my hand act normal as it used to be.

5. Have you tried physiotherapy before and how did it help?

Yes I have tried physiotherapy and it was really helpful, I learnt how to walk, use my right hand etc. I had to stop for one year and some months because my mom was down with Chronic kidney disease and had to go through dialysis every now and then and I was footing her bills, so there was no way I could foot my bills. My mum died November 21st 2018. I recently hired a physiotherapist to resume sometime this month.

6. How do you think people living with disabilities can benefit from the PCA Independence Store and the equipment we provide?

I’ve gone through your PCA independence store, your wheelchairs, walking frame etc. Your store is everything for those who needs help in mobility. They will benefit immensely from the store.


Recognising the signs of a stroke

There’s an acronym for spotting a stroke that’s taught to all emergency personnel, and it comes in handy for anyone who thinks a stroke is occurring: FAST That stands for facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulties, and time to call a doctor.

Usually, one side of the body is affected as a stroke is happening in the brain, making someone’s face on that side sag, and leading to problems with raising that side’s arm. Slurred or confused speech is common as well, since a stroke may be affecting memory and verbal abilities.

At this point, time is crucial, because anti-stroke medication must be given within about four hours of stroke onset to prevent permanent disability or death.

But not all strokes look like a classic FAST incident. Older adults tend to be affected in larger blood vessels making them more likely to have the “big stroke symptoms” like facial drooping and incomprehensible speech.

Younger adults, though, are more likely to have clots thrown from other areas of their bodies d those clots travel through smaller blood vessels. tHIS difference often leads to stroke symptoms like numbness or headache.

People tend to shake off these signs because we’ve all had numbness from sleeping in a funny position, or sitting on a leg wrong, leading to that sudden dead feeling. In those kinds of moments, the nerves get compressed and when they’re released, the numbness should turn very quickly to that ouch-ouch-ouch tingle of your limb coming back online.

With stroke, though, there’s numbness without pain. Women having a stroke are also more likely to have debilitating headaches, and that people who suffer from regular migraines are actually at greater risk for strokes in general. Even hiccups that don’t resolve could be a stroke symptom.

It’s important to be aware of your changes in your body and if in doubt, get yourself to a doctor immediately.

Physiotherapy for stroke patients

Physiotherapy is an integral component of your road to recovery from a Stroke. Stroke known as a cerebrovascular accident is a result of lack of oxygen to the brain due to a clot causing decreased blood flow, or ruptured vessel in the brain. Physiotherapy applied early in the patient journey will improve, function, health, and independence.

After a stroke, there are several layers of intervention. Upon primary presentation, time is of the essence. After surgical, medical, and acute care modalities, care transitions functional daily living support and rehabilitation. Goals of physiotherapy involve,

  • acute care
    • prevention of recurrent events, mobilization, and screening
  • Rehab care
    • Setting rehab goals
    • Manage motor deficits
    • Prevent and treat complications
  • Community reintegration
    • Coordinate continuity of care

Treatment for Stroke

  • Improve motor control
    • Use several different techniques for sensory stimulation to facilitate movement.
  • Learning theory approach
    • Conductive education and motor relearning theory
  • Functional electrical stimulation
    • Help restore motor control, spasticity, and hemiplegia
  • Biofeedback
  • Limb physiotherapy
    • Use of passive and assistive care devices.
  • Other treatments include
    • Tone management, Sensory re-education, Balance retraining, Fall prevention, Gait re-education, Functional mobility training

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