Local leisure provider helps local man walk again

 41-year old Paul Simpson from Ryhope suffered a stroke in October last year which rendered him paralysed down his left-hand side. With the help and support from both a local leisure provider and the Move to Improve team he is now able to walk and has improved movement in his left arm.

Paul, who previously worked at a nearby plant and tool hire company, as a delivery driver would often spend his weekends kicking a ball around with his 15-year old son Dalton, or out for walks with his partner, Sharon. On 31st October 2016, Paul suffered from a stroke that left him completely paralysed down his left-hand side.

Paul’s life changed overnight, and he was unable to walk or use his left arm at all. “Suffering from a stroke meant that walking and using my arm became impossible. All of a sudden I wasn’t able to do ordinary things such as go up and downstairs or open doors.” Paul explains. “My physiotherapist suggested the Move to Improve programme which would help to improve my mobility.”

Strokes can be caused by a blockage cutting off blood supply to the brain, or bleeding in and around the brain. The symptoms of a stroke can cause a person to become immobile down one-side of their body and lose their ability to move their arms and legs.

Paul visited his local leisure centre, Everyone Active’s Raich Carter Sports Centre. Colleagues were able to recommend the ‘Move to Improve’ programme, and advised that he met with instructors Chris and Kirstin to discuss his health concerns.

Paul continues: “Before I went to the gym for the first time, I was really nervous as I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get on and off the equipment okay. I met with Chris and Kirstin who created a tailor-made 12-week programme and put my concerns at ease. Both Chris and Kirstin were really supportive throughout the programme and were able to talk me through each exercise every step of the way.”

“I began the programme by attending sit down exercise classes and used a range of equipment including recline bicycle, arm bicycle and treadmill. Throughout the 12-week programme my strength and mobility increased, and I began to build my muscle through a variety of weight based exercises.”

“After I completed the 12-week programme, I began to walk more independently and took out a full-time membership at the centre. I now attend the gym four times a week and one year after my stroke I am able to walk stronger and more naturally. I wouldn’t have achieved this without hard-work and determination and the help of Chris and Kirstin.”

Geoff Moffat, Everyone Active’s general manager said: “We are extremely proud to host the Move to Improve programme which has worked with Paul to help improve his mobility and fitness. Our instructors are equipped with the expertise to design a unique exercise programme to promote healthy lifestyle changes.”

“Our goal is to continue to work with partners to encourage the local community to become more active, and I would encourage anyone suffering from a medical condition to find out more about the programme and the other ways in which we can help them.”

Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture, Councillor John Kelly said: “Paul’s story is a real inspiration to everyone and it’s heartwarming to see how he’s been helped our Move to Improve programme.

“Helping him on his long road to recovery after suffering a stroke shows what can be achieved when we all share our resources and expertise to deliver the help and support that people need to meet their particular health and domestic needs.

“I hope Paul continues to regain his movement and sense of physical independence, which will make such a huge difference to his life and that of his family.”

Everyone Active’s colleagues support Sunderland City Council’s Move to Improve programme which offers support for people who suffer from long term medical conditions. The tailor made 12-week programme works with individuals to improve their health & wellbeing through a specifically designed exercise plan.

Regular physical activity can benefit heart health, help to maintain a healthy weight and improve muscle and joint function. Not only this, but regular exercise can help to manage existing medical conditions as well as prevent future health complications.