Stroke survivor back in the saddle

Clive Arion was detemined to cycle again after a stroke. Now he is biking to Paris. Catherine Scott reports.

a stroke can often leave people with some form of paralysis.

So when cyclist Clive Arion survived a stroke aged 43 he was determined to get back on his bike as soon as possible.

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“The nurses said that I should set myself challenges,” explained Clive from Moortown.

“I first set myself the goal to walk again, then run and then get back on my bike.”

And with hard work and determination Clive was able to start riding again last year and has now set himself a gruelling new cycling challenge.

Tomorrow the 46-year-old will set of a on a 234-mile cycle ride from London to Paris over four days to raise money for The Stroke Association.

Clive, who had his stroke in 2009, is the only stroke survivor to take part in the event.

“When I had a stroke I went from a relatively healthy 43-year-old to completely wheelchair-bound over night.

“I was due to go cycling that day so it was such a shock to then hardly be able to move. It really made me realise how life-changing a stroke can be, whether it happens to you or one of your family.”

Despite what happened, Clive was determined to recover.

He still has weakness down his right side which means that although he can walk and cycle he can’t run. He also struggles to use his right hand and so has had to have his bike specially adapted.

“Stroke can affect people many different ways. I feel I was lucky. My speech wasn’t affected and my cognitive ability was okay, but my right side was wiped out. I didn’t know what was going to happen. But slowly, slowly I have got back on my bike.

“My muscles were a bit wasted and so I have had to build up my endurance again.

“I think the nurses thought I was being too ambitious when I said I wanted to ride again, but through willpower and good fortune I was able to get to the stage where even though I still have a lot of right sided weakness, I can still take part in this event.

“It’s been a very long road to recovery and I’m excited to take on this massive challenge.”

And he believes he is as well prepared as he will ever be for the Paris challenge.

“I’ve done all my training and I am ready for the off.”

The event started tomorrow, arriving in Paris on Sunday. It will tour through beautiful English countryside, go across the water by ferry, pass French vineyards and villages before a spectacular finish at the Arc de Triomphe.

Orsi Fulop, manager for the event and Events Officer for The Stroke Association said: “The London to Paris cycle ride is a lot of fun and a great challenge.

“For Clive to be able to recover enough from a severe stroke to be able to take part is an immense achievement, and I would encourage people to support him by donating through his Virgin Money Giving web page.

“Also, this is an annual event so if you weren’t able to sign up this year, keep an eye on The Stroke Association website for details on next years event in September 2012.”

Clive has already raised nearly £3,000 for the Stroke Association.

“I was really helped by the information leaflets they diseminate around the hospital. It costs a lot to make sure that information is in every hospital and also to man their helpline,” says Clive.

As well as raising money for the Stoke Association, however, Clive hopes his challenge will raise awareness about the risk of stroke.

“I was seem as having a premature stroke because I was 43 which is quite young, but they can happen to anyone, no matter what your lifestyle.

“I wasn’t aware until I had one just how many adult disabilities are caused by people having a stroke.

“We had history of stroke in the family, but also unbeknown to me I had high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

“Just by having your blood pressure tested can make all the difference.

“If you do have high blood pressure it can be very easily treated and that can really reduce the risk of having a stroke.”

Visit www.virgin moneygiving.com/clivearion to sponsor Clive or www.stroke.org.uk to find out more about The Stroke Association.

ONE PERSON EVERY FIVE MINUTES

A stroke is a brain attack, and happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off and brain cells are damaged or die.

Every year, around 150,000 people in the UK have a stroke. That’s one person every five minutes. Stroke is the third most common cause of death in the UK. Around 1500 people in Leeds have a stroke every year.

Although most people who have a stroke are older, around a quarter of strokes happen in younger people. It is estimated that over 20,000 people under 65 have a stroke every year, and stroke also happens to children and babies.