Stories and letters from survivors
Story From A Survivor
"In January 2014 Bart had a stroke. Otherwise in good health he spent two weeks in ICU, another six weeks in hospital. Unable to talk, walk or even stand, feeding tube, trach, equipped with a helmet for leaving the bed to a wheelchair. Bart was on 16 different drugs, still hooked to IV. He went off to in-patient therapy for another three weeks. Longer would have been beneficial but insurance ran out. He left the hospital 80lbs lighter, with an AFO for his right leg a helmet, in a wheelchair, unable to stand without a two person assist. Home to recover with only a wife and two adult children.
When Bart began to talk he had asphasia. It was mostly mumbo jumbo, frustrating of course. We laughed along as he called us all weird names (mine was bacon). Slowly he got stronger.
After about the first year he could stand on his own and walk some with his AFO and cane. We began going to the 360 ability gym to walk and use the stationary bike. I strapped him on because Bart is completely paralyzed on the right arm and partial paralysis on his right leg. Bart is very strong and started out well riding 30 minutes at a time.
One day at the gym in 2017 we were accosted by Dan Zimmerman, who is a stroke survivor. Dan started and runs a non-profit adaptive cycling charity. Dan gave us his information and asked us to join. Bart is unwilling and puts off going because trying new things when you are just not your old perfect physical and mental self is quite daunting. Understanding this I don't push and just bring it up occasionally to see if I can get a spark.
Finally, a year later, we are at the gym, and Sun Cyclery is there with a dozen adaptive trikes on the basketball court. Dan is also there. So, we both get on trikes and try them around the court. FUN! That was it Bart loved it! There was a wonderful lady there who told us the VA has a program to help veterans get adaptive trikes if they qualify. Exciting news! Bart was already signed up for adaptive sports at the VA and had been to a few outings. Nothing had been a good fit. Hockey was fun but someone had to push him around, which only made him feel more handicapped. Basketball was Barts true love before the stroke. All the fun was gone from that with only one working arm.
In September of 2018 Bart joined the adaptive cycling class with the VA. We began going on Tuesday and Wednesday outings with Dans group. Caretakers are also fitted with trikes so they can tag along. Which is great because it is a little un-nerving letting someone go off on their own, not knowing if they can handle it.
We clocked quite a few miles. Dan does about 6 miles total at each ride and then the group joins for lunch. Dan brings a big trailer filled with a couple dozen trikes. He helps each person find a trike that works for them. Really amazing how hard he works at the whole process. There is always others who show up to help. What a great time!
Since then Bart has received an adaptive cycle of his own through the VA program. We ride three days a week on the canal system near our house. We also love to join Dan as he helps new people start moving! The adaptive bike program at the VA and Dan Zimmerman with Spokes Fighting Strokes has helped Bart get out, exercise, meet new people, and feel free! It has been a great experience! Thanks Dan for accosting us at the gym!"
My stroke was in 2003 at age 53 and I read an article in the local newspaper in 2011 about a stroke survivor in my community riding the recumbent trike. I have paralysis affecting my back, gait and all limbs. So, during summer of 2012, I decided to give it a try at AngleTech in Colorado Springs. After trying them and riding around the parking lot, I loved it and purchased one! The recumbent trike has been a blessing giving me freedom, opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and God's nature, enjoyment of getting the sun and the benefits of exercise which is critical for body maintenance and strength.
Fast forward to summer of 2017. As I was putting my trike away after my ride, Dan shows up after his ride in the parking lot and asked me "Did you have a stroke?". That was the beginning of my awareness of SFS. Dan started the Denver Stroke Adaptive Cycling group during the summer and I participated in SFS group rides at the City Park. I met other stroke survivors/care givers and it was a blessing to ride with them. I had a great sense of camaraderie riding my trike with other stroke survivors/care givers riding their's.
Dan invited me to visit him this winter in his home town in Mesa, Arizona. I went there during late January of this year. I saw first hand Dan's tireless work with SFS. I assisted Dan with his weekly Spoke Adaptive Cycling (SAC) groups in Tempe and Tucson and the 2nd annual SFS event organized by the Physical Therapy School. I enjoyed riding my trike with the SAC groups for lunch rides. It was satisfying to have this opportunity to help Dan with assisting the stroke survivors to ride the trikes. Dan is dedicated and very passionate about his work and involvement with SFS. It is a great way to help stroke survivors on their road to recovery.
We cannot say Thank You in a big enough way to Dan Zimmerman and his Spokes Fighting Strokes group!!! Our son, 23, was struck by a large truck as a pedestrian in December of 2017. After eight weeks in the trauma ICU, we were finally able to help him begin stroke recovery/rehab for two large strokes. While Jake has had extensive speech therapy, PT and OT, he had missed being able to do a sport, and not able to really see his own progress. Thanks to the Aphasia Center of Tucson, we were put in contact with Dan and this amazing group of people! Jake was so excited the first day he got on a trike, even though it was tiring (he had not been involved in a cardio-exercise in 14 months)! What a huge smile he had on his face!
We quickly pursued getting a trike for Jake to use at home, in addition to the Tucson rides that Dan sets up. Dan was so so helpful in this venture, giving us details for the trike best suited to Jake, special adaptations for pedal/handlebar/gears and brakes. Jake's confidence alone has increased in such a huge way! He is excited to get out in our neighborhood each day, wants to show our family friends his trike and demonstrate how he rides! He has been so self-conscious about having had a stroke, that this is truly such a blessing. Each week Jake looks forward to seeing his riding friends! He is walking further each day, talking even more, remembering more, gaining strength in his right arm, and just feeling stronger all around!
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Sandy and Art Bantlin, Jake's Mom and Dad
I suffered a stroke due to an AVM rupture in May 2016 which left me with left side paralysis and severe spasticity in my left side. I could walk after a few months of therapy as an inpatient. I had a gap of 5 months of no therapy. Forward to January 2018. I received a message from a gentleman (Dan Zimmerman) telling me about his organization SFS. As a stroke survivor having a recreational activity to help in our recovery sounded like fun. After listening to Dan's story I knew that I had to try. And in February I did. So much fun!
Also may I add that I only made it halfway on my trike. I was glad that I tried and made it a goal to make the full journey the next week. Dan was very patient and very helpful since I was having a difficult time with the gears and going up and down hills. After a few weeks this all became easier. If I had any hiccups I would just make it a goal to be more successful next time. After about 3 weeks my physical therapist noticed my walking was getting much improved because my feet were staying closer together and I was less out of breath. I told her that I had been riding trikes.
Another major problem I was having was a weak bladder, and this disappeared. When I spoke to my GPS she said it was due to position on trike and the peddling uphill. So many positive things have come about because of this. Plus I made new friends and heard others stories. Now I'm working on getting my own so I can ride whenever I like. Thank you Dan for inviting me to join the group.
Stories & Letters From Fellow Survivors
"I'm writing this letter to inform you how much I appreciate your group Spokes Fighting Strokes(SFS). If I hadn't attended the stroke survivors group meeting at Swan Rehab I probably wouldn't have discovered SFS. When I got on a trike you brought to the meeting I was immediately sold on owning one. With SFS providing a trike for me to use I enjoyed getting up on Tuesday morning to do our ridE at Tempe Town Lake. Sure, the first ride I rode on a trike was strenuous. But it got easier and more enjoyable the more I rode. By the end (several weeks later) of riding I could feel my left leg providing power to the pedal. My last physial therapy evaluation at Swan Rehab showed improvment in my sits to stand and my timed walking distance. This is attributable to my trike riding.
Thank you for all you have done for helping me recover from my stroke. Through SFS I was able to meet other stroke survivors and was able to focus on my abilities not my disability."