Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Spain Celebrates Stroke Awareness

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Written by Heidi Wardman
Friday, 24 April 2009


Spain will recognize Stroke Awareness Day for the first time this year, thanks to the efforts of the Torrevieja Stroke Support Group, founded by Costa Blanca resident Louie Killeen during January 2007, shortly after her husband suffered a stroke, which immediately turned her life upside down.
Louie made it her mission to establish a support network and the Torrevieja Stroke Support Group has gone from strength to strength, now providing a professional therapy and rehabilitation programme to stroke survivors and their loved ones located throughout the area. Its success has seen it relocating to a fully equipped, spacious centre, located in the Annex to the rear of the Age Concern building in Urbanization La Siesta, where the group convenes every third Friday, whilst additional Speech Therapy and Social group sessions are held in the interim.

Sessions are structured to include a welcome friendship circle and separate therapy groups, according to individual need, with access to the expertise of a fully qualified team, including two Primary Care Nurses, one of whom was commissioned to establish a Stroke Support Centre in the UK, an Occupational Therapist and Group Councillor.

The Torrevieja Stroke Support Group’s most recent challenge is in promoting the FAST initiative to both international and Spanish communities, to enable people to identify the critical signs and symptoms of an attack. Over 150,000 people in the UK suffer from stroke, a sudden attack on the brain when the blood supply is disrupted, every year. The long-term result and severity of symptoms varies in accordance with which part of the brain has suffered the attack, although there are a number of common signs which reveal themselves when stroke hits, which the UK Stroke Association has identified in its FAST initiative.

The Face Arm Speech Test (FAST) is the procedure applied by Paramedics when they are called to a potential stroke situation. FAST examines three specific symptoms: Facial weakness - can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped? Arm weakness - can the person raise both arms? Speech problems - can the person speak clearly and understand what you say? If any or a combination of these symptoms present themselves, then this is where the ‘T’ comes into play- Time to call 112. Delay can result in death or major long-term disabilities, such as paralysis, severe memory loss and communication problems (aphasia).


The FAST initiative will be among items on the agenda on Stroke Awareness Day, celebrated annually on 12th May in countries throughout Europe. The Torrevieja Stroke Support Group is pleased to announce that the anniversary will also be acknowledged in Spain for the first time in 2009. The group has been supplied with a wealth of materials from the Stroke Association printed in English, whilst Public Relations Officer, Anna Blaun of ‘Clinica Centro’ in Torrevieja has devised an alternative slogan and had materials translated for the benefit of the Spanish audience. The Clinic’s Director, Julio Monje, revealed that it receives many stroke survivors through its doors, many of whom he feels may have responded more positively to rehabilitation had they or loved ones responded swiftly to the symptoms. He said, “The clinic is delighted to work alongside the Stroke Support Group during this project, which we hope will be the first of many.”

Subject to approval from the Town Hall, representatives from the two parties are hoping to distribute the materials in the Plaza de la Constitución, Torrevieja, on Stroke Awareness Day, and will be on-hand throughout the morning to answer any questions which residents may have in relation to the issues raised.
For further details please email

1 comment: said...

Wouldn't it be better if your spech therapists cpoul connect online via videoconfrencing and do therapy there for starters.