When Stroke takes half your world away - Peter Blair
At the age of 57 Peter Blair had a stroke and as a consequence lost the sight on his right side from both eyes, a condition known as hemianopia. He lost the ability to read and write and some of his memory function. At the Adult Learning Centre at North Shields he re-learnt to read and write and how to use a computer. Through involvement in research and his own determination Peter has regained some ability which he has put to use helping others.
The stroke damaged the left side of Peter’s brain which affected the right side of his face and his right arm and leg. His eyesight was severely impaired and he experienced aphasia (word finding problems) and memory difficulties, and as a result had to give up his business as an Independent Financial Adviser.
Gradually things improved, Peter went to a “Living with Stroke” event run by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust, where Peter discovered Stroke North, Leisure Choices and Age Concern. These organisations all offered useful activities and involvement which were to prove instrumental in the next phase of his recovery.
Later Peter attended a Stroke Association conference in London where he was introduced to a project called “Read-Right”. This free project includes an online therapy to provide rehabilitation to patients with hemianopia and aphasia. The website presents text in a continuous stream from right to left at a speed chosen by the reader and in colour combinations of letters and background suited to personal needs. Feedback on progress in speed and comprehension is regular and encouraging, so that Peter can now read longer pieces of writing.
Peter took part in a research study to identify unmet needs arising from visual impairment associated with stroke. This involved being interviewed about his experiences. In contributing to this study, Peter is pleased he has helped to improve knowledge about post-stroke care needs. In 2011 Peter was elected a Public Governor of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust, and re-elected in 2015.
Peter has his own website where he shares information about his experiences of stroke to help others: www.strokerecoveryservice.co.uk
Peter explains why he takes part in research:
“I am willing to participate in any research project if it will help others suffering a stroke to improve their lives.”
“I do anything that I can to help people now. I visit the hospital weekly as part of a peer support group to speak to people that have suffered strokes and their families to let them know that it’s not the end of the world.”
“Taking part in research has made me feel better and helped me to learn more about stroke. It also gives me the possibility to help others, and just having that possibility is enough for me to take part again and again.”
Facts about stroke (taken from www.stroke.org.uk)