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Monday, 5 February 2018

HORIZON "My Amazing Brain: Richard's War" – Recovery Story of a Catastrophic Stroke

Very interesting documentary on BBC2 this evening: HORIZON “My Amazing Brain: Richard's War" – Horizon follows the story of Richard Gray and his remarkable recovery from a life-changing catastrophic stroke.

Here is the iplayer link available for the next 29 days:

It was very interesting indeed to watch a rehab team rehabilitate a stroke patient and to compare it to our service. I wasn't impressed with their handling skills when attempting to mobilise the patient at all – our physio's/staff are far superior! Nobody was assisting with foot placement, no prompts to maintain a mid-line position, no assistance or prompts to bring more weight onto the affected side to achieve a normal swing phase movement with the non affected leg etc. Maybe the film missed this out? But, he did eventually recover to walk more or less normally, which was indeed a remarkable recovery, but he did receive very intense therapy, which sadly is not available to the majority of stroke patients for a number of reasons. Obviously if you have the pennies to pay for private therapy then this would potentially help a patient's recovery outcome. I was impressed by the 7 day service he received (we cover 6 days), but our service can not provide this for one simple reason, there is not enough staff to have a 7 day service, but this will more than probably be in place eventually! But, then on the other hand, we find that stroke patients are constantly fatigued (common after stroke) and that one day off a week can give them a rest from therapy.

What the documentary didn't show, was the massive struggle families go through on a daily basis, once the patient is home: the constant assistance that the patient requires throughout a 24 hour period, toileting and the logistics of this eg bed pans, commodes, method of transferring for toileting: hoisting, sturn transfer etc etc, washing, dressing and general personal care, cooking meals and trying to run the household at the same time – the list goes on........ Also, Social Services provide a maximum of 4 x a day call outs for carers to assist patient's in their homes. If the family can not physically care for their relative, carers are needed and if this does not work inbetween these visits, the only other options are residential placement, which is incredibly difficult for patients to cope with emotionally and psychologically, especially at the younger end eg in their 50's/60's and sometimes younger, or the most expensive option is to pay privately for a 24 hour carer, which will cost you more than the average person earns per week!

It was a very emotional story from beginning to end and Richard's wife was there for him constantly in body and soul. It brought a tear to your eye at the finish – I won't give it away, watch the documentary!


  1. Hi Penny,
    Your team at the QEH stroke ward were really caring and professional when my father was in there a few years ago. It made a lot of difference in what was a very hard time for all...
    On the other matter of your plans for a big lifestyle change, I wouldn't presume to offer advice or say anything for or against- not my business- but the first thing that I wondered about re living in a motor home is how feasible is it to keep warm in winter I also wonder if there might be some other affordable options worth thinking about, such as say a static caravan in a nice area for birding (eg Friary Hills Blakeney?)- but I've no idea what the costs of that are etc. One or two villages inland are not so pricey still? Anyway, wish you the best of luck and every success in your plans.

    1. Hi Mike - thank you for your very kind words and praise, much appreciated. I will have to spend a lot of time thinking about all the details of my future living plans, there are obviously lots of difficulties when not living under bricks and mortar! Best Wishes Penny