Former Royal Marine Justin, from Lympstone, hails award-winning stroke care

PUBLISHED: 17:00 11 September 2017

Justin Smallwood, 57, from Lympstone, who was treated for a stroke at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital

Justin Smallwood, 57, from Lympstone, who was treated for a stroke at Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital

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Justin Smallwood, from Lympstone, has praised the Royal Devon and Exeter’s stroke care after it was given an A grade by the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme.

A former Royal Marine from Lympstone has praised Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital’s stroke service after it was given national recognition.

Justin Smallwood, 57, has spoken after the hospital was given an ‘A’ grade for its stroke care between December 2016 and March this year.

The former Royal Marine was treated at the hospital in August 2008 after suffering a stroke at home and now sits on the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Trust’s monthly stroke governance group to offer a patient’s perspective.

He said: “For many people, making a good recovery from a stroke is a real prospect.

“It’s hard work and you have to stick at it. But even the slightest gains will bring a sense of great achievement.

“What I see and hear in my monthly meetings at the RD&E indicates we are lucky to have such an exceptionally well managed and led stroke service. I am thoroughly impressed by the professionalism of the whole team - doctors, nurses, therapists, managers and others – and their relentless attention to detail.”

As the stroke began he remembers a ‘not pleasant’ tingling sensation filing his body before he collapsed.

When he came to and tried to carry on with his day, he cut himself shaving and ‘nearly blew up the kitchen’ attempting to cook something because his left hand wasn’t working properly. He was also unsteady on his feet.

A friend took him to a GP who quickly suspected a stroke and sent him to the RD&E, where he stayed for a week before being discharged.

He has no long-lasting physical symptoms, although he also said that even a mild stroke like his can trigger other more subtle issues, such as sudden tearfulness and problems with fatigue, all of which can be hard for friends and family to understand.

Since his stroke, Justin has lectured on military strategy, helped youngsters in outdoor education and become an Action for Rehabilitation from Neurological Injury trainer, helping stroke patients after discharge.

Each year the hospital treats around 700 stroke patients. It provides emergency stroke care on Clyst Ward, with intensive rehabilitation on Clyst and nearby Yealm Ward.

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