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The National Stroke Association of Malaysia (NASAM) Johor Bahru was set up in 2007 with a focus on stroke-specific rehabilitation. Its first centre was set up in 1996 in Petaling Jaya. It now has 9 clubs all over Malaysia, serving 500 stroke survivors daily, 90 of which are in Johor Bahru.

One in six people have had a stroke and it is the third cause of death in Malaysia, with over 50,000 people suffering from strokes every year. It is the largest cause of disability among people aged 20 to 64. Stroke recovery is dependent on many things including how quickly one goes for rehabilitation, treatment sessions, surroundings, and emotional or mental issues. As stroke damages the brain, recovery for every patient is different but any recovery, no matter how small, is a positive sign. 

At NASAM, professional physio, speech, and occupational therapists take stroke survivors through a goal-oriented and client-centred therapy process. NASAM is geared towards participation and community reintegration and holds continuous reviews to keep track of the recovery of the survivors in areas of mobility, strength, endurance, balance, functional tasks, and other needs of the members. Emotional happiness plays a part in their recovery too, so social outings, gatherings and support groups are held regularly. There are no queues or waiting times at NASAM as each rehabilitation session is set by appointment, with no restriction on the number of sessions one can attend.

From universities and hospitals to local communities and corporate organisations, NASAM participates in educational and awareness talks regularly to inform the public on stroke risk factors, recognition, prevention, and the need for early intervention at hospitals. They want to outreach stroke awareness to as many people as possible and make rehabilitation available for the poor and those living in rural areas – services for those who cannot afford it is currently available free-of-charge.

Ivan Tan, a physiotherapist at NASAM, finds satisfaction in seeing a stroke survivor become mobile and independent again. This instills hope and brings joy to everyone involved in the recovery process, especially the survivor’s family. NASAM has even had stroke survivors from out of town moving to stay closer to their centres for a while to receive therapy.

“Stroke is preventable. Change your lifestyle and maintain healthy eating habits. Be mindful of risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, excessive alcohol intake, smoking cigarette, physical inactivities, and obesity,” Ivan concluded.