Woking Strokeability has been successfully running for almost 20 years. The group was set up in 2003 by David and Edna Balcombe after David struggled to find rehabilitation classes following his stroke.
The main aim of the group is to provide those necessary classes that David could not find. The aerobic and aqua exercises which Woking Strokeability runs are not just suitable for stroke survivors. Anyone who is recovering from a brain injury is welcome along.
The exercise groups allow people to work at their own level to improve endurance, strength, and coordination skills to promote mobility and flexibility.
Ben, the current secretary of the group, suffered a stroke over a decade ago. After spending ten days in a hospital bed and time in a rehabilitation centre in a wheelchair, Ben was offered just six sessions with a physiotherapist following his discharge from hospital. Fortunately, in his final week in the rehab centre Ben was told about the work which Woking Strokeability was doing and the kind of support which they offered. The sessions which they run were essential to helping Ben improve his mobility and continuing his rehabilitation after his discharge from hospital. This example highlights just how important the work which support groups like Woking Strokeability provide because, without it, Ben just would not have had the right aftercare.
Ben’s story also highlights the importance of the UK Neuro-Recovery Directory. Ben asserted that it was only his proactive nature and discussions which he had with people in the rehab centre that meant he found the group. “If you’re not going to be proactive, you’re not going to find anything!” He said. By centralising this information in the UK Neuro Recovery Directory we hope to help more people find the right support.
It is not just exercise classes that the group offers. Ben said the first reason he joined was to look after himself and stay healthy, but he soon found the group offered so much more. Ben explained that in fact “the social side is the most important thing. Building relationships with people who have been through the same things as you is just as essential as the exercise.” Woking Strokeability meet up regularly to try and create a community of brain injury survivors. Whether those meetings are small things like having meals out together or a drink down the pub, or big days out like their boat trips. The group is partnered with the Royal Yacht Association and they have regular catamaran trips to the Isle of Wight and canal trips – all of which are wheelchair friendly and suitable for brain injury survivors.
Ben said the sociability and friendships created were so important because “there is a raft of knowledge within the group, and everyone can always provide useful advice or links to help each other, especially for carers. And everyone is always willing to share.” By having groups like this information about brain injury recovery can be shared really easily in an informal environment.
While lots of groups have faced issues in the past year the Woking Strokeability was able to adapt and support its members, which is a testament to the community spirit it creates. The group has been able to put on chair-based, instructor-led, free rehabilitation sessions online over Zoom.
Before and after these sessions members were able to keep in touch with one another and make sure that everyone was safe during the pandemic. This not only meant everyone was able to stay fit in lockdown, but they also still felt part of the community.
Find more groups that have developed this community of brain injury survivors like Woking Strokeability in your area today using the UK Neuro Recovery Directory!