Bathurst woman Sue Bowden helping make a difference for stroke survivors

Meet the woman helping to make a difference for stroke survivors

After suffering a stroke 27 years ago, NSW Central Tablelands woman Sue Bowden is determined to make life after stroke easier for fellow survivors.

Ms Bowden, of Bathurst, was recently selected to join the Lived Experience Working Group, as part of the Stroke Foundation Young Stroke Project.

The project is funded by the National Disability Insurance Agency. It will help working-age Australians (18-65) find their new normal after stroke by determining their unique needs and developing information and resources to better meet those needs.

She said she's thrilled to be a part of the group guiding the initiative.

"We're looking at highlighting the significance of stroke on younger people, when younger people often have families, jobs and responsibilities and all of that," she said.

"Then there is the stroke and how that impacts that particular person and their family and everything and how to get the information out to them that is best suited to their needs and how they're continuing to live with stroke.

"I guess we're looking at improving the life of stroke survivors and continue contributing to their lives."

Now 50-years-old, Ms Bowden suffered a stroke when she was just 22 following a traumatic situation.

"My stroke happened two weeks after I lost a baby. I had severe preeclampsia and that resulted in her being stillborn," she said.

"Because I was young and sat around in a hospital to get treated, it was over 24 hours since I received treatment, which completely dissolved the blockage.

"I had a brain stem stroke, so when I came out of ICU, I was blinking to communicate. I needed to learn to talk, eat and all that.

"I was in rehab for six weeks, but we look at recovery as on going. It's a big recovery that's needed and everyone's stroke affects them differently, depending on where it happened in the brain, whether it's a bleed or a blockage."

It's a big recovery that's needed and everyone's stroke affects them differently ...

Bathurst woman Sue Bowden

Even though Ms Bowden suffered her stroke 27 years ago, she's still affected by it.

"I work on my balance a lot but I don't like to think I am limited in anyway," she said.

"I've experienced a lot of trauma and the trauma can have a devastating effect, if not given the right support to get through that. It's pretty tough.

"I only came in contact with the Stroke Foundation four and a half years ago. Prior to that, I was pretty solo."

Ms Bowden said the Stroke Foundation has helped her in "incredible ways".

"It's helped me piece together all the trauma, taking a different look at it," he said.

"It's been wonderful. I really feel like they can provide good information to help go, 'Yeah that happened to me. That was like that. I'm not just imagining it and it really affected me'."

Early signs of a stroke include a drooping face, unable to hold your arms out straight and speech being slow and slurry.

If you think you have symptoms, call triple zero immediately.

For more information, visit Stroke Foundation's website at strokefoundation.org.au.

This story Meet the woman helping to make a difference for stroke survivors first appeared on Western Advocate.