A Bolwarra Heights woman, determined to use her personal experience to raise community awareness of working-age stroke and the condition aphasia, has been recognised with a national award.
Emma, a former lawyer who experienced a stroke four years ago at the age of 33, is passionate about being a voice for people with aphasia, but admitted it has been a long – and sometimes dark – journey to get to this point.
“I am proud of winning this award and of turning a life-changing event into something positive,” Emma said.
“When I first had a stroke, I had limited movement on one side of my body and everyday tasks like dressing and walking were exhausting. On top of that, I was living with the hidden challenge of aphasia – communication difficulties. My mental health suffered and I had to move back home with my parents.”
With ongoing support of her parents and health professionals, Emma found the strength to share her experience via public speaking and social media and participating in advisory groups and research.
“Not many people in the community know what aphasia is, but I am determined to change that. Aphasia is loss of language, not loss of intelligence,” Emma said.
Stroke Foundation New South Wales State Manager Rhian Paton-Kelly congratulated Emma on being named as the Courage Award winner.
“Emma has come a long way in her recovery.
“She is a resourceful and insightful woman who is making a difference for young people with stroke and aphasia by advocating for them at every opportunity,” Ms Paton-Kelly said.
“I thank Emma and fellow Stroke Awards nominees and winners for their incredible dedication and contribution to the Stroke Foundation’s mission to prevent stroke, save lives and enhance recovery.”
The Stroke Awards recognise the unsung heroes of stroke – the stroke survivors, carers, volunteers, health professionals and researchers who continually go above and beyond to make a difference to help people with stroke and their families live well.
The 2021 Stroke Foundation national Stroke Awards were supported by major sponsor Ipsen. Almost 70 people were nominated for the awards this year across six categories: Improving Life after Stroke, Creative, Courage, Fundraiser of the Year, Volunteer of the Year and President’s Achievement.
Aphasia is a condition which impacts all aspects of communication including speech, comprehension, reading and writing.