“Stroke can happen at any age” – 14-year-old stroke sufferer and family aim to raise awareness

Roisin Quinn and her family’s life changed forever on Saturday 19th January 2019, when Roisin had a stroke in the middle of the night. Terrified and unable to move or speak, the young teenager was rushed to hospital, where she was diagnosed and able to begin her long and arduous journey to recovery.

Prior to her stroke, Roisin was an incredibly independent and confident teenager, a top achiever at Derry grammar school Thornhill College, as well as having a range of hobbies including singing, speech and drama, playing the clarinet, guitar and Gaelic football. Roisin’s mother, Jaqueline Quinn described to me how “all of that was just ripped away from her”.

Roisin Quinn (right) and her mother Jaqueline

Roisin awoke in the middle of the night with a sore head, tried to reach the bottom of her bed and subsequently fell onto the floor, “I hummed to get my mum’s attention because I couldn’t speak,” Roisin’s mum Jacqueline revealed “I noticed her face had a drop… I immediately thought she has had a stroke. I said to Roisin put up your arm, she couldn’t.”

Before the stroke, Roisin had been put on a high dosage of steroids due to a recent health condition, and prior signs of ill health were attributed to a possible reaction to the medication, both by health officials and Roisin’s family. Once arriving in hospital, Roisin was unable to receive thrombolysis, partly as there was no policy for her to get this clot-breaking treatment due to her young age. Roisin and her family stressed how important they believe raising awareness is, for early diagnosis and treatment of young stroke sufferers.

“I wasn’t able to talk, walk, move my right arm or anything I was bedbound,” she said, “ I had to learn how to walk again, I had to learn how to eat and speak.”

Roisin at the beginning of her recovery where she had to re-learn how to walk and talk

Her mum Jaqueline said: “Roisin endured a year and a half of occupational therapy, intense physical therapy, intense speech therapy, she’s had a dietician as she had to learn to eat again, she’s had a neuropsychologist,”

“Even today, the effect of Roisin’s stroke is apparent. Because Roisin had to learn to walk again and she has to wear a leg splint. Her leg doesn’t work as well and her hip looks like she has a limp. She is still unable to use her right arm and had to relearn to write using her left hand.”

Today, Roisin and her family’s future looks a lot brighter than 18 months ago. “I started singing again about three or four weeks ago, I re-started drama a year ago.” Roisin still cannot go back to some of her much-loved hobbies such as the clarinet and Gaelic football. Roisin has returned to Thornhill College, who supported her and her family throughout and is now completing her GCSE’s with the help of a teaching assistant and recently gave a speech on visible and invisible disabilities to her classmates.

Roisin Quinn today

To donate towards stroke care in Northern Ireland or to access a stroke helpline please visit : https://www.stroke.org.uk/donate/donate-your-area/donate-northern-ireland

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