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Aphasia Rail Trail - Raising awareness of a silent condition

Aphasia Rail Trail....Raising awareness of a silent condition

Cycling 137km along the Otago Rail Trail: Easter 2017

AphasiaNZ Media Release Tuesday 11 April 2017

Aphasia is a communication disability that usually results from a stroke, but it can also be the result of a range of brain injuries. Aphasia affects speech, reading, writing and understanding language. It is estimated at least 17,000 people in New Zealand have stroke-acquired aphasia and approximately 30% of new strokes per year will present with a type of aphasia.

Many people who have aphasia may also have a physical disability affecting their right side. ‘So, biking 137km over four days is a huge challenge to take on’ says Annette Rotherham, AphasiaNZ’s Christchurch Community Aphasia Advisor.

‘A group of 13 cyclists and 3 support crew have been raising funds since August 2016 to take on this task. All of these people are affected by aphasia in some way, whether they have it themselves or their spouse does. What happens to one person in life, affects the whole family.’

‘We have had some people pull out along the way and two who passed away in 2016 suddenly. We will be making a special effort for Graeme and Tony and celebrate how far everyone has come in their stroke recovery.’

Annette states that electric bikes have been a godsend and thanks to i-cycle Electric in Christchurch, people with aphasia have been assisted back into biking again.

‘It has been exciting to see how much progress people have made in six months just getting back on a bike, riding it with one weak arm and leg, and not falling off!’

One cyclist, Mark Steele, will ride a recumbent cycle. Cyclists include an able bodied and a person with a stroke on a tandem, and two other stroke cyclists on electric bikes.

Annette states the group has had some great training days in preparation for the Aphasia Rail Trail, and has realised how well Jo McAllister and Junelle Robinson, two Christchurch stroke survivors with aphasia, were doing with their cycling.

‘Hagley Park is a safe place to get some practice. We also took on the Little River Rail Trail one Saturday in January.’

The motto for the group is “Never ever give up” ‘...believe me, they won’t be giving up anytime over the four-day cycle in Otago. Watch this space to see how we are going!’


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