How did Exercise Referral Scheme support my recovery?

Did you know that Exercise Referral Scheme (ERS) is a form of treatment? Why did I need it. This is an email I sent to my friend not long after coming out of hospital after a SAH.

"I have just experience hospital for 27th April and home 23rd may. Let's non common speak not other not without never - can't just to catch run up with all something of particular!

I will just talk what to due not this works not tomorrow."

Hmm - still trying to work out what I was saying 18mths later! The SAH I had in April 2011 resulted in a stroke (vasospasm) after the initial clipping operation which left me having to relearn the art of speaking and writing (dysphasia). I was having great difficulty summing up the energy required on a daily basis. I remember crying non-stop in the shower thinking who I am, who is this version of Alice? Trying to pull out every word you have ever spoken in your life from what felt like treacle that was my brain was so lonely and extremely frustrating and tiring. In February of this year my recovery seemed to reach a plateau. I started to go downhill; this was 10mths after the initial SAH. It was so important to improve the oxygen flow to the brain to enable me to carry on making new neurological pathways, as you can see I needed them badly, but it seemed like my recovery had halted. I was no longer coping as a result.

My Doctor offered me anti-depressant but I felt my brain was still very poorly and I wanted to feel the process of recovery and not have it masked. This was the point when I met Charles Allen a NHS Exercise Referral Trainer at a local gym that had just opened. He told me about Exercise Referral as a form of treatment. I went to the Doctor who agreed and signed the forms. I then started a programme of exercise for an hourly session three times a week. I could not believe that I had someone for a whole hour treating my conditions, someone to listen to me and more importantly give me the energy to carry on with my recovery. Improving the oxygen to the brain was instrumental in improving my speech and writing and general well being. The programme he devised was specific to me and each week I could see how I was improving. Most of the time we spent the time walking, he introduced me to Nordic Walking which is great form of exercise. My blood pressure is now normal, my cholesterol (bad one) LDL is 1.2 achieved by the Exercise Referral Scheme and not through Statins. I cannot tell you enough how this form of treatment was right for me and how much it helped me deal with the sadness and frustration of the SAH. If you what to find out more or benefit from it, go to your GP and ask them about the Exercise Referral Scheme in your area. The scheme has given me the confidence to speak, not worry if I get words wrong and cope with the results of having had a SAH. I hope that this will give others the opportunity to benefit the same way I have. Even if having someone that is there just for you can make your journey less lonely.

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  • Thanks for that Alice. it is good of you to share the information. I have post concussion syndrome and may ask my GP for a referral to that tomorrow. Is it easy to find centres ?

  • Hi there, I am glad that you found my experience helpful. The exercise referral scheme is run in partnership with local councils and local primary care trusts PCT and is a national scheme. Often the NHS trainers can work from private gyms, which is what happened in my case. The Exercise Referral scheme can take many forms including swimming, Nordic walking and gym based sessions. You need to ask your GP what is available in your area or contact local gyms or the local council and see what they offer. Good luck and I wish you every success on your journey.

  • I have just read this for the second time and just wanted to say its lovely how you expressed your feelings and shared this information - what you say makes so much sense! I have now contacted my doctor and he is referring me to the scheme - thank you!

    Linda xx

  • You are very welcome. Let me know how you get on with the scheme.

    Alice xx

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