Skiing after a Stroke
Stroke: What is it?
Every year an estimated 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke. That's one person every five minutes. Most people affected are over 65, but anyone can have a stroke, including children and even babies.
A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off and brain cells are damaged or die. This can happen either because of a blood clot or bleed in the brain.
The most common effects of a stroke are physical ones such as weakness and paralysis, spascity, problems with walking and changes in sensation. However, as stroke damage can occur anywhere in the brain, a person can often be affected in other ways as well such as in communicating or emotionally.
(The above information is used courtesy of www.stroke.org.uk)
Skiing after a Stroke
A person who has had a stroke can ski and enjoy the mountains with family and friends but how and where will depend on the overall health and medical condition – for many people who were skiers it can be all about regaining self-confidence again and perhaps in some case coming to terms with using a sit-ski rather than normal skis and for some this can bring about a lack of confidence BUT if this is the course open then once tried never look back the world again on the mountain is yours! Ski 2 Freedom has many clients who have discovered the joys of the snow and magic of the mountains. Most ski schools which have qualified instructors for disabled and adaptive skiing and snow sports should be able to work with children and adults who have mobility issues and conditions relating to having had a stroke.
Confidence on the snow is the key issue and it is well worth investing in the excellent private tuition that is on offer by the ski schools. Once the person has gained the basic skills then there is no reason why the family cannot all ski together- it is also a good idea to return to the same ski resort for a couple of winters just to maintain that special relationship and new found confidence.
Your initial enquiry to the ski school should include as much background information on the skier as possible. If the skier has skied before, it can be incredibly useful to dig out old photographs or even video footage of them skiing previously to send to the ski school so that they can get a good idea of their level. Discussing in detail the skier’s specific needs and condition(s) is VITAL to ensure both the ski school and you know what is going to happen and to ensure you are matched with the right ski instructor and/or equipment. This may include a discussion about other associated health and social needs such as epilepsy, asthma, communication and social awareness skills and any recent medical developments. This is especially important after having a stroke as the effects of this can be so variable.
It’s also worth noting that for most of us, needing to go to the loo on the mountain can sometimes be problematic; if you feel this is an issue for you or the skier in question, please don’t feel worried about mentioning this to your instructor before you set off- it’s much better to be prepared and near to an accessible loo(the nearest loo on the ski slope may not be the most accessible-as we all know most are downstairs!) than have to face a ‘behind the tree’ situation, which for an able-bodied person is hard enough!
In some cases when a person is new to the slopes or not a very confident skier or there are mobility issues, then why not have an hour or so on the piste with a qualified ski instructor 1:1, then take the opportunity hiring the instructor to whizz your child around the slopes with the rest of the family using a Tandemski or sit-ski (dual ski pilot) - he or she gets the chance to relax a bit and be with brothers, sisters, parent and friends! A lot of fun and laughter can be had!
Equipment and Clothing
Many of the ski schools have a good idea of what is required especially when it comes to equipment and clothing, in particular the ski boots. Do ensure that you ask the ski school if they can recommend a ski hire shop for such items. If the skier has physical impairments after the stroke such as weakness or problems weight bearing etc. then special ski equipment may be required but this will depend on the degree of the disability. The specialist ski instructor working with the skier will be able to assess this.
Where the action is: Ski Schools
In Europe, the US, Canada and worldwide there will be ski instructors with experience in disabled and adaptive skiing tuition; therefore it is more than likely that whichever resort you choose there will be someone who will be able to help you. However, going somewhere where skiers with a similar condition have gone before, may well be a source of comfort and reassurance. We are delighted to be able to list below all of those schools, of which we have personal experience ( clicking on the link will take you to our Accessible Resort Guide for further information on the ski school and resort): If the resorts below do not yet feature on the Accessible Resort Guide please contact us directly at email@example.com
ESF Arcs 2000
ESF Belle Plagne
ESF La Rosiere
ESF Les Gets
ESF Val d’Isere
ESF Val Thorens
Evolution 2 – Tignes
Evolution 2 – Val d’Isere
Oxygene La Plagne
ZigZag International Ski School – Samoens
Active Motion – available most Swiss ski resorts
Handiconcept - Villars
European Snowsports Verbier
Redpoint Adaptive Ski Programme – Zem am Zillar
Freizit – Schladming
Ski 4 All – Zell am See
If you would like information on other ski resorts please go direct to our Accessible Resort Guide or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are delighted to be able to share information and feedback from families who ski and understand the problems associated with skiing after having a stroke on our Personal Stories page
Useful Resources and Links:
The Stroke Association- a UK based charity dedicated to offering information and support to people who have suffered a stroke and their families
Skiing with disabilities
Click here for information on skiing with a specific disability or special need.
Accessible resort guide
The Ski 2 Freedom Accessible resort guide has a wealth of information to help you find your ideal accessible ski resort.
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