Sarah Mellers suffered a basal ganglia stroke in December 2017 at the age of just 47. At the time of her stroke, Sarah was working full time as a teaching assistant and treasurer of a football club. The stroke came as a huge shock to Sarah, her husband David and their two sons (aged 19 and 12), but with her determination and their support, Sarah has made great progress and is back at work part time.

Sarah’s stroke occurred during the day, when she went to answer the door to her friend and lost all feeling in her left-hand side. Her husband David, called an ambulance and she was taken to the Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield.

On arrival, her blood pressure was high, and it was apparent that she had suffered a stroke. An MRI scan confirmed this, and Sarah stayed at the Hallamshire for 3 months. During this time, Sarah had a conversation with another stroke survivor and her family on the ward and Sarah was told about STEPS and the services they offer.

Sadly, there are a limited number of facilities for people to go following a stroke, and on many occasions, like Sarah, they are sent home in a wheelchair with daily visits from carers and community physiotherapy once a week.

Stroke rehabilitation at STEPS.

After the conversation on the ward, Sarah’s husband David visited STEPS. A member of the STEPS team visited Sarah the following week to complete an assessment.

Sarah started visiting STEPS at the end of March 2018. As she lives so close to the facility, she was able to visit 5 days a week for intensive rehabilitation.

When Sarah first arrived at STEPS, she presented with left-sided weakness and was reliant on a wheelchair.

Sarah took part in an intensive therapy programme involving:

  • One-to-one land-based physiotherapy sessions
  • Aquatic therapy
  • Sensory Programme
  • Exercise Programme
  • Bike Sessions
  • Climbing at The Foundry
  • Horse Riding
  • Music Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Psychology
  • Balance Class

A goal meeting was completed when Sarah first arrived at STEPS to ensure we were working towards and focussing on Sarah’s particular goals, which included, walking again, using her left-hand side, being active again and returning to work.

Sarah’s progress at STEPS.

Sarah found, that once at STEPS she was able to really focus on her recovery.

She also valued the additional support that STEPS were able to give alongside her rehabilitation, with things such as regaining normality at home. The occupational therapists at STEPS were able to offer suggestions for any obstacles Sarah faced back at home and the Chef did a cookery session with Sarah to enable her to cook for her family.

Following 9 months at STEPS, Sarah felt confident enough to walk with a stick and was no longer reliant on a wheelchair. In January 2019, Sarah started a gentle, phased return back to work as a teaching assistant. During this time of around 8-9 weeks, Sarah did two days at work, two at STEPS and had a day at home during the week.

In March 2019, Sarah was able to return to work on a part-time basis and she continues to have physiotherapy sessions at home for an hour and a half every week.

Sarah’s Story highlights the possibilities that can be achieved with intensive rehabilitation. For Sarah and for many others who have suffered a stroke, that can often be returning back to the life and job you had before.

Of her time at STEPS, Sarah said, “STEPS gave me hope that I could do things like I had been able to before my stroke. Everyone at STEPS listened to my goals and helped me achieve as many of them as possible.”