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Occupational therapy helps Olympian make fast stroke recovery

Monday 24th December 2018
Michael Johnson has revealed how embarking on therapy with
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Former Olympic champion Michael Johnson has spoken of how the prompt use of occupational therapy helped him to make a swift and comprehensive recovery from a mini-stroke. 

Johnson, who won multiple gold medals in the 200 and 400 metres in the 1990s, suffered the mini-stroke earlier this year, but told the BBC he has made an almost complete recovery.

The former athlete, now aged 51, had suffered a problem with his arm and went to get checked up, finding he had then lost feeling and function right down his left side when he finished the MRI scan.

He revealed: "Doctors said the best chance of recovery was to immediately get into physical therapy.

"I did that two days after the stroke and I got out of bed with assistance and got behind the walker around the hospital - and ironically, it was around 200 metres."

Johnson noted that it had taken him around 15 minutes to cover the distance he had once run in a world record 19.32 seconds, but said he proceeded to engage with the therapy in an "Olympian mindset", focused on doing everything possible to recover.

Describing how he progressed, Johnson added: "I could regain co-ordination and balance which I had lost. I did not lose any strength. Then I was getting back to walking properly, then more dynamic exercises and then into running."

The remarkable recovery Johnson has made could help inspire others to engage swiftly with occupational therapy as they seek to recover from a stroke, although the former athlete himself related how doctors told him victims often make little recovery or only a partial one. 

Johnson may have benefitted from maintaining his fitness after his career, but occupational therapy can help anyone who has had a stroke with their recovery, whatever their starting point when they begin the road back. 

The Stroke Association advises that the quicker people are to seek help, the better their chances of making a full recovery. 

Written by Alex Franklin Stortford

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