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Stroke survivors forced to battle to get back to work.

STROKE survivors are struggling to return to work because employers are failing to recognise the emotional and physical impacts of stroke, according to the findings of a Stroke Association poll.

To mark Action on Stroke Month 2015, the charity surveyed people in the UK who were in employment and had a stroke. The results showed that: A third of people (31%) who left their job following a stroke felt unable to remain, as their employer did not understand the impact of their stroke.

Over half (53%) said their employer didn't understand the impact of their stroke.

Over a third of stroke survivors (36%) said that their employer did not try to make the changes they needed to return to work.

Eoin was an independent 19 year old, who was a year into a business degree, when his world was turned upside down by a stroke. His dad took him to a hospital. Eoin can't fault the hospital care but outpatient care was a different story. Arriving at the occupational therapist's office, Eoin could see chairs and a desk, and a children's book.

"I remember thinking, please don't let that be for me, but it was. It was humiliating. I tried to complete an exercise but couldn't. That destroyed me and I didn't want to know after that.

"I was still in contact with my friends; they listened, they were there. But I was so aware of the gap from the life that I knew and the one that my friends were still in."

Eoin, who's now 35, tried to go back to his degree - "in an attempt to get back to my old way of life"- and then worked with his dad. This was probably when he first began to experience depression.

"My dad obviously knew about the stroke and was very supportive. He was the perfect person, and it was the perfect setting to work in, even if the job itself wasn't that rewarding for me."

Eoin's now a qualified occupational therapist. He decided to retrain after feeling the therapy he received needed to be improved and personalised, particularly for younger people.

"I feel my current employers would be willing to make any changes necessary. Thankfully that's not necessary. The philosophy of occupational therapy knows you may have to adjust the task to a person's abilities. I can feel confident working in this field, knowing that if I needed support now I'd get it."

For more information, visit www.stroke.org.uk or call 0303 303 3100.

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Eoin Garvey

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:May 18, 2015
Words:422
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