Stroke Survivors Use Golf Therapy To Work Through Physical Challenges
A group of brave stroke survivors in various stages of recovery gathered at the Brookside Golf Course Wednesday morning to dust off their clubs and learn techniques for overcoming common stroke disabilities as a way to increase coordination and strength.
“Saving Strokes” is an annual event sponsored by the Huntington Memorial Hospital and the American Stroke Association that provides stroke survivors with a renewed sense of energy and physical capability through the life-changing program that even brings pro golfers to the green for group instruction.
“The overall goal is to give stroke survivors the opportunity to learn and use new rehabilitation tools outside of the clinical setting. They’re working on their focus, dexterity and their balance all while they are learning how to putt or chip or swing a golf club,” explained Jennifer Halldorson of the American Stroke Association.
Saving Strokes was developed based on a 1999 University of Chicago study which showed that techniques important in golf – focus, dexterity and balance – can also improve strength and flexibility for stroke survivors.
The American Stroke Association Surviving Strokes event is now in its 16th year and is available in nine of ten western states.
“Our hospital strives to be a center of wellness for our community and we are really thrilled that we can participate in this event today,” said Huntington Memorial Hospital Stroke Program Director of Candy Corral.
The event included support from Huntington Memorial Hospital rehabilitation therapists and nurses on site that provided blood pressure screenings.
The stroke survivors set off in groups around the course to work on putting, chipping and hitting balls on the course’s driving range–all under the instruction of professional golfers.
“We pair stroke survivors with golf professionals to introduce or reintroduce them to the game of golf post stroke,” said Halldorson.
Survivors of all abilities are encouraged to join the event thanks to an accommodating staff who ensures everyone is able to golf.
Special equipment such as adaptive carts and golf clubs were also made available to participants with balance or coordination issues.
“Even if you have paralysis on one side or you’re in a wheelchair, we can accommodate people of all abilities to come out and play and really encourage them to really enjoy their day and to find success as meeting new people and having fun,” said Halldorson.
Stroke survivor and golf enthusiast Amy Chang-Levack has participated in Surviving Strokes for the past three years and spent most of the morning driving balls onto the range.
“I am very thankful that [Huntington Memorial Hospital] have this program to make this group of people as a family–interact, communicate, help each other and support each other,” said stroke survivor Amy Chang-Levack, “and at the same time having a good time learning something,” Chang-Levack added.
Stroke is the leading cause of severe, long-term disability and number five killer in the U.S., according the the American Stroke Association.
About 795,000 Americans will have a new or recurrent stroke this year, or one person every 40 seconds.
“The overall purpose of our mission and program for stroke services in our community is to provide life saving measures for anyone having an acute stroke,” said Huntington Memorial Hospital Stroke Services Program Director Candy Corral.
The signs of stroke can be identified by symptoms known as FAST, or Facial droop, Arm weakness, Speech impairment and Time to call 9-1-1, according to Corral.
“It’s essential that you call if you have any sudden onset of these symptoms and get to us as quick as you can,” said Corral.
More information about Saving Strokes can be found at www.savingstrokes.com.