“It can happen to anyone — stroke doesn’t discriminate against colour, it doesn’t discriminate against age.
Maths isn’t a good way to see if someone with a cultural background is improving in recovery.
Seith Fourmile, Indigenous stroke survivor
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In what can only be described as a cruel twist of fate, Cairns Indigenous elder Seith Fourmile (Gudju Gudju) suffered a major stroke while working as a cultural advisor to a far north Queensland brain injury association.
“I actually had a blood vessel burst in my brain so, I became one of those people,” Mr Fourmile said.
“I went into method acting where I was actually in the hospital bed going through what people with acquired brain injuries go through.
“I spent quite a few months not being able to walk at all, just bed ridden.”
It was during this time Mr Fourmile realised the challenges traditional means of recovery presented to Indigenous stroke survivors.
As a qualified electrician, he had no problems dealing with the mathematical equations medical staff asked him, to measure the effect the stroke had had on his brain, but they got him thinking.
“If somebody didn’t go to school, they’d find it hard and if they couldn’t do those types of maths equations they’d be seen as not improving,” he said.
“[Indigenous Australians] are used to plants and animals and could probably name all the different seasons as we know them in our culture and let people know what’s around at that time.
“Maths isn’t a good way to see if someone with a cultural background is improving in recovery.”
In conjunction with Synapse, the brain injury association he still works with, Mr Fourmile is developing a seasonal calendar which can be used to measure the recovery of Indigenous stroke survivors.
“As soon as [they see] the wattle is flowering, they’ll know what’s out in the ocean, whether the mullet is fat, whether the shellfish are fat,” he said.
“A lot of Indigenous people can relate to those seasons and it’ll trigger that memory.”
For the work he has done, Mr Fourmile has been nominated for an award in the ‘Improving Life After Stroke’ category in the 2015 National Stroke Foundation Awards.
“I’m overwhelmed that I’ve been nominated for an award … I’ve never been nominated for any award, ever,” he said.
The best part of being nominated however was the opportunity it gave him to spread awareness of stroke in the wider community.
“It can happen to anyone — stroke doesn’t discriminate against colour, it doesn’t discriminate against age,” Mr Fourmile said.
“If the nomination means I get to educate more people about stroke, then so be it; that’s great.”
Facts and figures about stroke
- Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers and a leading cause of disability.
- 1 in 6 people will have a stroke in their lifetime. These people are someone’s sister, brother, wife, husband, daughter, son, partner, mother, father… friend. Behind the numbers are real lives.
- In 2015 there will be more than 50,000 new and recurrent strokes – that is 1000 strokes every week or one stroke every 10 minutes.
- In 2012 there were nearly130,000 or 30% of stroke survivors under the age of 65 in the community. [In 2012 there were over 420,000 people living with the effects of stroke and 30% of these people were of working age.]
- In 2015 there will be almost 440,000 people living with the effects of stroke. This is predicted to increase to 709,000 in 2032.
- Stroke kills more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer.
- 65% of those living with stroke also suffer a disability that impedes their ability to carry out daily living activities unassisted.
- In 2012, the total financial costs of stroke in Australia were estimated to be $5 billion.
- The estimate of $49.3 billion in burden of disease costs for stroke is comparable to the $41 billion burden of disease costs that Deloitte Access Economics estimated for anxiety and depression in 2010.
- The FAST test is an easy way to recognise and remember the signs of stroke. Using the FAST test involves asking these simple questions:
Face Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arm Can they lift both arms?
Speech Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call 000 straight away
Stroke recovery information
My Stroke Journey has all the information you need immediately after a stroke. It explains the different types of stroke, and provides details about stroke treatment and care. My Stroke Journey also provides information about leaving hospital and the services and support available.
Our fact sheets provide more detail on a range of topics, including:
- Communication after stroke
- Depression and anxiety after stroke
- Diet after stroke
- Driving after stroke
- Emotional and personality changes after stroke
- Fatigue after stroke
- Incontinence after stroke
- Medication after stroke
- Movement and exercise after stroke
- Moving to residential aged care after stroke
- Pain management after stroke
- Palliative care after stroke
- Returning to work after stroke
- Sex and relationships after a stroke
- Swallowing problems after stroke
- Supporting children after stroke
- Thinking and perception after stroke
- Upper limb management after stroke
- Vision loss after stroke
- My journey after stroke (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander information)
Post Stroke Checklist
This Post-Stroke Checklist has been developed to help you talk to your healthcare team, acting as a prompt for common problems experienced by people post-stroke. Fill it out and take it with you to each visit and raise relevant questions with your team.
Call StrokeLine for more information on 1800 787 6531800 787 653 FREE or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Editors Note : On World Stroke Day 29 October the editor of NACCHO Communique Colin Cowell had a stroke and was admitted in “15 minutes ” to Calvary Hospital Canberra where he had extensive treatment and support over 7 days from the stroke team lead by Dr Ramesh Sahathevan : Now on the long road to recovery : PS Agree with Seith Fourmile about those tests