Published Tuesday, 29 October 2013
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Every two hours in Northern Ireland someone suffers a stroke and of those who survive, thousands are left with their communication skills severely disrupted.
Rodney Hamilton suffered from a stroke 10 years ago while taking part in a run.
"Just towards the finish, I did not feel right and I was in a coma for 19 days," he told UTV's Judith Hill.
He was left with a severe communication difficulty known as known as aphasia.
It affects over 10,000 stroke survivors in NI and it means everyday tasks like buying a newspaper can become an ordeal.
According to the Stroke Association, almost a third (31%) of aphasia survivors report problems being understood by their GP and a fifth (19%) encounter problems making an appointment to see their GP.
Damien Coyle, from Stroke Association, said the changes that can occur after a stroke can be dramatic.
"You can go from being a member who contributes a lot towards society, being a family person, having a wide circle of friends, to a situation post-stroke where your family have difficulty communicating with you," he explained.
"There is this misconception that stroke is only a condition that applies towards older people and that is far from the truth.
"There is evidence that there is an increasing number of strokes within the working age population, but you can have a stoke at any age."
But Rodney has made sure he is living life to the full, despite the daily obstacles he faces, in the years since his stroke he has sky-dived and abseiled and is planning more adventures.
By raising awareness about aphasia, the Stroke Association is hoping health professionals and ultimately the general public will understand and address the needs of those with aphasia and those who support them.
The charity has produced new help cards which those affected by aphasia can bring out with them and give to their GP, health centre or anyone else to help them understand this disability and communicate better.
© UTV News