Surviving stroke

Engineer, Dr Tom Crow was thrown into a new and confronting role when his wife experienced a massive stroke. Told she was unlikely to walk again or come home, he took on the carer and advocate role with amazing results. His handbook tells how.


Above: A carer’s lifeline: The Stroke Recovery carers handbook, by Tom Crow, is being launched this week. 

It’s national stroke awareness week and the Stroke Recovery Association NSW is launching a new book, the ‘Stroke Recovery Carer’s Handbook’. Written by the husband of a stroke survivor, it is designed as a kind of handbook to provide information, practical advice and hope to family members and friends of someone who has had a stroke.

In particular, it promises to assist new carers to find their way through the complex system of medical, rehabilitation, financial and other support services; and provide a roadmap for the first 18 months to recovery –  first to get their partner home from hospital, and then to give him or her the highest quality of life possible.

Author, Dr Tom Crow, an engineer and project management consultant was moved to write the handbook, in association with the Stroke Recovery Association of NSW and the Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney, to assist carers and families navigate their way through this complex process.

In the Crows’ case, the effects of the stroke were severe. After four weeks, Tom was told his wife was unlikely to ever return home or to walk again. With strong support from family and friends, Tom sought information, interacted with medical and rehabilitation professionals, and was constantly there to keep his wife informed about what was happening, and to give her hope.

“The outcome was very positive.  After 29 weeks in four different hospitals, five major operations and rehabilitation therapy for 2 to 3 hours per day in the later weeks, she was able to come home – and two months later we sold the wheelchair,” he says.

“This was not a random lucky outcome, but the result of my wife’s determination and successful management of the recovery process. This outcome can be replicated by others. One wonders how many stroke survivors unnecessarily become nursing home residents!”

In Tom’s experience the patient advocate role requires persistence and determination in working ‘in partnership’ with medical professionals. “No prior medical experience is required, but this handbook sure would have helped,” he says.

Key messages in the Stroke Recovery Carer’s Handbook are:

1.    There is hope – treatment and much assistance is available.
2.    There is a vital role for the carer as a patient advocate.

Understanding stroke

A stroke occurs when the brain is damaged by a sudden interruption of blood flow and hence oxygen supply. This may be caused by a blockage of the arteries leading to the brain or a ruptured blood vessel. The effects vary depending on which part of the brain is affected and the severity of the damage. The worst effects are partial paralysis of the body, loss of speech and cognitive impairment.

According to the Stroke Recovery Association more than 60,000 people in Australia have a stroke each year and 25 per cent of them die within a month. Stroke is the main cause of disability in older Australians and the second most common cause of death, after heart attacks.

Information about stroke prevention, stroke recovery, and the Stroke Recovery Carer’s Handbook (at $15.00 per copy) are available from the Stroke Recovery Association of NSW at   or email

The Stroke Recovery Association services include telephone counselling; information kits, brochures, videos and books; and seminars and workshops.

For information about stroke and events relating to National Stroke Week in other states, go to The Stroke Foundation website.


Tags: stroke, stroke-recovery-association-nsw, stroke-recovery-carers-handbook, tom-crow,

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