I am one of those 800,000 that did not have a plan for Stroke. In the next three posts I will try to explain why we need a better approach to Stroke Education-DP Dansereau, Know-Stroke.org
Part One: Background
As every athlete, coach and supportive parent knows, one of the big reasons for the success of a TEAM is that you are always prepared. This preparation includes practice, proper rest and nutrition, fair play, and perhaps a little luck mixed in along the way. Having a great game plan gives us something to rely on when the unexpected happens on any given day, or to overcome any obstacle we may face on the field.
I too thought I had the best of game plans and was quietly playing my own game before I became a Face of Stroke. As a proud father of three young children, I had worked hard to build a thriving private physical therapy and nutrition practice along with a great partner and my best friend, my wife, who has always unconditionally supported all my crazy ideas and trusted my business sense because she knew I always had a well thought out game plan.
Then one evening that all changed for me and my family. The opponent I faced could not be scouted, or conditioned for. At the age of 39, I had a stroke. The only thing I thought I knew about stroke, other than it was a familiar term used in golf, was that it was some type of lifestyle disease that generally affected older individuals, like someone’s grandparent. Like many of us, I admit I carried stereotypes of who had a stroke. As a physical therapist, I had worked with many stroke survivors, but only a handful were younger than myself. Without going in to great detail about the events of my stroke in this post, I have to stop now and say that it was not my first. The reason I still write this blog (know-stroke.org) and have not removed the photo you see in this post from my social timeline is that I had a stroke at 17 that went undetected, because it was not recognized by a coach. It simply was not part of his game plan.
In my next post I’ll try to explain more about this photo and its significance. In the meantime I’ll leave you with this. In Rhode Island where I reside with my family the state plan put forward by the Dept.of Health for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention is to have 18% of adults aged 18 and older know the four warning signs of stroke by the end of this year. This game plan effectively fails 82% of the time and does not even reach out to try to educate the young. This is a mistake, or perhaps and ineffective approach for such a devastating opponent, so we need another game plan. I have one, so stay tuned for part two…