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HomeHealthNorthwick Park and Chelsea FC join forces to support stroke survivors with...

Northwick Park and Chelsea FC join forces to support stroke survivors with innovative health programme

Northwick Park Hospital has partnered with Chelsea FC Foundation to launch an innovative health programme aimed at supporting stroke survivors. This free 12-week initiative combines exercise and educational classes to help patients adopt healthier lifestyles and reduce the risk of further strokes.

Nathan Powell was discussing a business proposal with a client when he felt ‘a loud bang’ in the back of his head. “I remember my vision blurring and struggling to stay conscious,” said the 56-year-old banker who was later told he had suffered a stroke.

The keen runner had completed a half marathon several days earlier with no ill effect and suddenly found himself a reluctant member of the Young Stroke Survivor’s Club. Nathan added: “I thought strokes were something that happened to other people. One minute I was OK, the next my world was turned upside down.”

If Nathan’s stroke and subsequent hospitalisation were unsettling, then the day he left the hospital was worse. “It is really frightening to be given a leaflet, some medicine and be sent home to fend for yourself. I was so anxious about it happening again it felt like walking on eggshells.”

Stroke experts recognise the majority of stroke patients living in the community do so with little or no support. In response, Northwick Park Hospital has teamed up with Chelsea FC Foundation to run a free 12-week programme offering these patients weekly two-hour sessions with practical advice and support.

The secondary prevention programme, funded by NHS England, combines exercise with educational classes to support patients who may not be receiving support from the health service. The one-year pilot could help more than 100 people a year minimise the risk of further strokes by adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Sophie Kempsford, Clinical Specialist Therapist (Stroke) and project lead, said: “The programme is all about empowering the participants and giving them the confidence to implement a healthy lifestyle. We provide evidence-based education to improve their understanding of stroke and its risk factors. We give them the tools to help them improve their diet, level of activity, and mental and physical health.”

Nathan added: “I enjoyed the classes and found them useful. The exercise classes gave me the confidence to start pushing myself under expert guidance, while the educational classes helped fill in a lot of gaps. It’s also great being around people who have gone through a similar experience. I found talking to people so helpful because you are with people who have been through a similar experience.”

Activities, which were jointly run by staff from the hospital and Chelsea FC Foundation, included football, circuits, tai chi, mindfulness, breathing exercises, and yoga. Educational classes included managing anxiety, confidence, healthy eating, and spotting the early warning signs of stroke.

Anne-Marie Smith, Health and Wellbeing Manager, added: “Chelsea FC Foundation is extremely proud of our Bridging Blues: TIA programme expansion to support Harrow and the surrounding areas. The aim of our programme is to educate, motivate, and inspire stroke survivors to live a healthier, fuller life, while promoting exercise for life with our pathway activities within the community. We are really pleased to offer the much-needed support to so many participants, and are looking forward to starting our next cohort.”

Participants reported changes including losing ten kilograms in the first eight weeks of the programme, positive changes in diet, and regularly practicing the group exercises at home. It is now recruiting patients across north-west London for its next two programmes.

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