Stroke victim has to pay her own physio

Carol Pearson
Carol Pearson

A Wigtownshire woman recovering from a stroke has had to go private to progress her rehabilitation after NHS care stopped abruptly after a year.

Carol Pearson, who is in her early fifties, suffered a stroke when she was 49 and experienced the communication disability known as aphasia.

Carol was a Classroom Assistant for many years in a secondary school. She was extremely artistic, doing a significant number of paintings as commissions. Her stroke meant that she lost her income from her job and her commissions. She lost the use of one arm/hand and, while she can walk, drags one foot, which is splinted to stop it rolling over. Her husband works as a mechanic in the local garage. Even with a caring employer, this has put significant strains on the family. Worst of all for them is the fact that the physiotherapy, from which she was benefitting, was withdrawn automatically at the end of a year. The only physiotherapy she now has is that for which they have to pay - and private fees make this very difficult.

Dave, Carol’s husband, said: “When Carol came out of hospital, Newton Stewart Hospital provided physiotherapy for her twice a week, but that stopped automatically after a year, but the NHS said she would be reassessed after three months at home. That was done and she was told that the NHS felt they could not take her any further as she was not progressing. Carol didn’t want to stop having physio so we found a private physiotherapist in Glenluce and Carol had physio there for a year. Our doctor thought that Carol could get extra physio in Newton Stewart as the private sessions were helping her and she was making further progress. This request was supported by a letter from the private physio, but she was turned down by the NHS. As I am the only wage earner this is a drain on our resources. I am now trying to get funding to help with the physiotherapy. For the NHS to only give her a year, especially someone so young, is no good. They have just dumped her.”

A spokesperson for NHS Dumfries and Galloway said: “We are unable to comment upon the details of an individual patient and their care. However from a general perspective, access to physiotherapy following a stroke will continue whilst improvement in the person’s condition continues. This is assessed in each individual situation and does not have a time restriction. Physiotherapy will be stopped once there is no indication that the treatment being provided is resulting in an improvement in ability.”

The Stroke Association’s Lost for Words campaign aims to raise awareness of the challenges some people experience after a stroke with communication and that help and support is available.

Andrea Cail at the Stroke Association, said: “About a third of people who have a stroke will experience the communication disability known as aphasia. This is caused by damage to the language centres of the brain affecting a person’s ability to use and understand language, which is a frightening and isolating experience.

This can affect speaking, reading, writing and understanding written or spoken language to a varying degree as each individuals’ experience of aphasia will be unique. We have groups in Scotland who can support people to practice new ways of communicating with other people in similar situations.”

More than 350,000 people in the UK have aphasia, a communication disability which can be caused by stroke. The Stroke Association is urging people to show their support for stroke survivors who are lost for words and make a donation. For more information, visit www.stroke.org.uk/lostforwords.