Physiotherapist recognised in Stroke Foundation Awards

3 May 2018 - for immediate release


The Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) is a proud sponsor of the Stroke Foundation Awards, which recognises and commends the many people who work tirelessly to improve the lives of those affected by stroke, including carers, volunteers, health professionals and researchers. The awards took place in Melbourne this morning.

The APA sponsored the Courage Award category, which recognises the courage, resilience and hope shown by survivors and carers in facing stroke recovery.

APA member and Ballarat resident Brendan Cutts was one of those recognised in the Awards, being named the Stroke Foundations’ Fundraiser of the Year. Brendan was inspired by the many stroke survivors he works with to raise funds and in 2017 he swam 20 kilometres from Perth to Rottnest Island, raising $8000 to support stroke research, community initiatives and carer support.

Brendan says he felt compelled to fundraise to help increase awareness of the sometimes devastating effects of stroke in the community, something he has seen firsthand. “Ballarat and the Grampians region has a small population spread over a large land area, and it has above-state-average rates of diabetes, obesity and heart disease, so the risk of stroke is relatively high, while our ability to rapidly respond is limited.”

“I personally drew a lot of inspiration from some of the stroke survivors I had worked with on the rehabilitation ward at Ballarat Health Services. One woman in particular was so determined and diligent in how she approached her therapy and the challenges that were presented to her that I felt compelled to keep training.”

“I had a lot of people support me – in particular my wife – and I dedicated many hours to swimming sessions,” he said.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan congratulated Brendan on his award, saying “Together with the support of community members such as Brendan, we can work towards reducing the burden of stroke in Australia.”

APA National Neurological Group Chair Melissa Birnbaum, who presented the Courage Award on behalf of the APA, says that physios play a vital role within the multidisciplinary team of health professionals who treat stroke patients. “Physiotherapists help stroke patients rehab in a range of ways, to ensure they recover their balance, use of limbs, ability to walk and support them in getting back as fully as possible into their work, family and leisure routines.”

“Physios are often working with stroke survivors in hospital within 24 - 48 hours of their stroke, in rehabilitation settings and of course continue to do so in the community following discharge.”

“It’s wonderful to be involved with such a fantastic cause, and to see firsthand the fantastic work being done by everyday Australians in recovering from and raising awareness of stroke within the community.”

Stroke Foundation Courage Award winners

Amanda and Sophie Clayton

Queensland mother Amanda Clayton is an inspiration. She and her husband Jamie care for their daughter Sophie, 11, who suffered a stroke in 2010 when she was just four years old.

In 2010, Sophie was having a play date with her cousin when she walked out of the playroom holding her leg. Sophie collapsed and her mum rushed to her aid after recognising the signs of stroke (F.A.S.T.). It was touch and go for Sophie initially, however with treatment and fire-cracker spirit Sophie left hospital 10 days later.

The stroke left Sophie with weakness on her right side, some speech issues and she has had difficulty learning. Amanda has been instrumental in making Sophie's recovery creative and fun. To help Sophie learn how to jump and hop, she and Jamie made her a tail and encouraged her to hop like a kangaroo. They set up the StrokeKids Facebook page to help other families and show there is plenty of life after stroke. Amanda and Sophie also took part in the Stroke Foundation's Sydney Harbour Bridge climb to launch the Stride4stroke 2017 campaign.



Brendan Cutts, Melissa Birnbaum, Sharon McGowan, Amanda & Sophie Clayton are available for further comment or interview.

Images available on request.

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