Stroke survivor Atika Ahmad goes from using a cane to walking independently for fund-raising event

SINGAPORE – Atika Ahmad woke up one April morning but found she had difficulty standing and speaking.

Her sister suspected that she had suffered a stroke but the symptoms eased and the 54-year-old brushed it off as a case of fatigue, deciding not to seek medical treatment.

It was only when Atika experienced the same thing the following morning that she decided to visit a hospital, where she was diagnosed with a stroke.

Then, she was running a home baking business, and when she received the diagnosis, she fretted that it would affect her ability to be independent.

She said: “I’m staying with my brother but most of the time, I’m on my own because he’s working. I was worried about what would happen to me and whether I could take care of myself.

“When I was in the ward, I thought, ‘I have to take care of myself and I have to get over this’.”

She decided to look for stroke support groups and came across the Singapore National Stroke Association (SNSA). After joining SNSA at the end of April, she was introduced to a member of its befriender group, who guided her through the early stages of her recovery.

She started her rehabilitation process, as the stroke had left her with mobility issues with her left leg, undergoing weekly physiotherapy sessions and fortnightly occupational therapy sessions at SATA CommHealth.

In addition to her physiotherapy and occupational therapy sessions, she participated in SNSA’s weekly fitness programme, where she would do different activities such as yoga and piloxing.

In the last six months, Atika has gone from relying on a cane to walk to going on daily walks that are 30 minutes to an hour long.

Atika said: “Whatever I learn with SNSA adds on to what I do at SATA. It’s a way for me to practise what I learn from SATA and that has helped me improve my balance and the strengthening of my leg.

“Before I had a stroke, I wasn’t the type to exercise. In a way, the stroke made me more health-conscious and active.”

Now, she is taking part in SNSA’s Stepping Out For Stroke event, an annual event to promote awareness and raise funds for the benefit of stroke survivors and caregivers in Singapore. It was launched last Saturday (Oct 2) and is usually held in the month of October as World Stroke Day falls on Oct 29.

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Atika hopes to clock 2,000 minutes of exercise as part of the event, as a way to encourage other stroke survivors and keep herself active. She said meeting other stroke survivors through SNSA and hearing their stories has played a key role in helping her during the rehabilitation process, which is also why she chose to become an SNSA volunteer in its befriending group.

She said: “When I do volunteer work, I feel satisfied that I am able to help others who are new stroke patients and share my journey with them.”

Sign up for SNSA’s Stepping Out For Stroke

When: Oct 2-31

Cost: Registration is free but donations are encouraged.

More details: Visit the Singapore National Stroke Association website

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