Stroke survivor reunites with heroes

Stroke Foundation

A Phillip Island man who had a stroke while stand up paddle boarding last year has been reunited with

the paramedics who saved him, one year on.

Stephen Fullarton was out for an afternoon surf in June last year when his day of fun took a turn.

“I was on a wave and a surfer watching me noticed I had just stopped, fell forward into the water and

remained under the water.”

The then 69-year-old was having a haemorrhagic stroke.

He was dragged to shore by a group of surfers who recognised he was having a stroke and knew it was an emergency. An ambulance quickly arrived and Stephen was receiving specialist treatment at the Alfred Hospital, shortly after.

“The main factor in my survival was I was able to be treated as quickly as I was. I was just lucky someone saw me collapse on my board and the paramedics came so quickly. They saved me.”

In June this year, Stephen marked one year since surviving his stroke and during 2022 National Stroke Week he wants to encourage other survivors to know there is life after stroke.

Stephen still has weakness in his right leg and is unable to drive but he is determined to get back on the board, catching waves.

“I want to give people confidence to continue with their rehab. It takes time and it’s frustrating that you seem to not be progressing as you wish but when you look back you realise you’ve achieved quite a bit, it’s just perseverance.”

He is also encouraging people to know the common signs of stroke which include, Facial droop, inability to lift Arms and slurred Speech.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Sharon McGowan, says Stephen’s story is an example of why acting quickly is crucial to recovery.

“Everyone’s stroke recovery journey is different and happens at a different rate but what we do know is the earlier you recognise a stroke and the sooner you seek specialist emergency treatment, the better your chance of recovery. Time is of the essence. When a stroke strikes, it attacks up to 1.9 million braincells per minute so acting quickly is crucial and it starts with knowing the F.A.S.T signs.”

National Stroke Week runs from August 8-14.

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