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Superhero dog helps stroke survivor with recovery

Stroke survivor’s ‘superhero’ dog has a pawsitive impact on her recovery

A young New South Wales woman who had a stroke at the age of 36 has credited her Pug Brian for changing her life during her recovery.

In June 2014, Nicole Harper was sent home early from work because she was feeling unwell. While she was relaxing on the couch, she realised something was very wrong.

“I couldn't lift my arm. I thought it was a pinched nerve but when I stood up my left side started to fail. My first thought was to go to bed and get some rest. My second thought was I am having a stroke.”

Nicole knew the signs of stroke but couldn’t believe she was having one. She called triple zero immediately knowing the importance of getting specialist emergency treatment early.

“ When the paramedics arrived, I had to drag myself across the floor to let them in but I just knew I had to get help immediately.”

Nicole’s stroke was caused by high blood pressure - a condition she had been living with since her twenties.

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is the leading modifiable risk factor of stroke and affects one in three Australian adults but only 32 per cent of Australian adults with hypertension have it under control.
“ I was shocked. I didn't know that young people have strokes. I think most people don't know that they can happen to anyone at any age.”

After the stroke, Nicole had to start her life again. Her walking was impacted and she could not use her left hand. She found it difficult to comprehend and communicate and avoided social events.

That changed the day she met Brian, the Pugalier. Brian has helped Nicole in her post-stroke recovery.

“He’s my little superhero. He gives me unconditional love and purpose.”

In the early days I had to get out of bed to feed, walk and toilet him. 
He helped me to break down some of the mental and physical barriers and to change my mindset. 

Guaranteed the best thing I’ve done is to get Brian!" added Nicole.

Chair of Stroke Foundation’s Stroke Prevention Advisory Committee, Associate Professor, Dr Seana Gall, says regular blood pressure checks are crucial to preventing stroke.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of having regular blood pressure checks to firstly see if you have high blood pressure. If you do, then you can work with your GP on ways to reduce your blood pressure.

“The good news is you can control your blood pressure by changing your diet and lifestyle, particularly through regular physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet and weight.

Medication is sometimes needed so you should take this as prescribed by your doctor.” 

“It’s wonderful to hear about the positive impact Brian has had on Nicole’s recovery and life after stroke. There’s lots of evidence that pet ownership is good for our physical and mental health.” 
Dr Gall concluded. 

More information on blood pressure can be found here

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