Lin Kooi Ong, PhD

The National Stroke Association of Malaysia (NASAM) Stroke Games 2019, an amazing event showcasing remarkable possibilities of #LifeAfterStroke, kicked off with an inspiring start at the Panasonic National Sports Complex in Malaysia on October 19. This event is in conjunction with the World Stroke Organisation – World Stroke Day, Southeast Asia Route. Over 800 participants from different states, including Penang, Sabah and Johor, as well as Singapore, participated in 25 events. The youngest athlete was 16 years old, and the oldest was 81 years old. The games kicked off with seated volleyball and hand cycle. The event closed on October 20 with Janet Yeo, stroke survivor and founder chairman of NASAM, putting out the flame.

The NASAM Stroke Games 2019 was declared open.
The NASAM Stroke Games 2019 was declared open. Left to right are: Dato’ Wan Hashimi Albakri, Acting Group CEO, Sime Property Berhad; Tun Jeanne Abdullah, Patron of the Malaysian Paralympic Council; Janet Yeo, NASAM Founder Chairman; Hannah Yeoh, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development; Stuart Milne, CEO, HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad; Toh Puan Dato’ Seri Hajjah Dr Aishah Ong, Patron of NASAM; and Ruchira Gupta, NASAM Senior Advisor. Photo provided by Frankie Goh, NASAM, with permission.

“The Games is NASAM’s contribution to the stroke community around the world,” said Yeo. “We wish that this fighting spirit of a stroke champion is ignited into every person affected by a stroke no matter where they are.”

Yeo is hopeful that the Games will grow and generate more stroke champions, a concept which is also aligned with the brain. The brain is fantastic and has remarkable capacity to grow new cells and new networks throughout an individual’s life. Sports and physical activities are excellent options to promote recovery after stroke. At the end of the day, everyone is a stroke champion!

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The NASAM Stroke Games.
The NASAM Stroke Games are a celebration of life after stroke, showcasing remarkable possibilities of recovery. There is no such term as “plateau,” and everyone is a stroke champion. Photo provided by Frankie Goh, NASAM, with permission.

“We hope that this event demonstrates that there is #LifeAfterStroke and that early awareness and advocacy can help reduce the risk of stroke among Malaysians,” said Dato’ Wan Hashimi Albakri, of Yayasan Sime Darby.

Stroke, or angin ahmar, is one of the leading causes of death and disability. The incidence of stroke is still increasing in Malaysia, with over 50,000 new cases reported yearly. Approximately 40% of affected people are of working age, and up to 70% of stroke survivors suffer a disability which impedes their ability to carry out the activities of daily living. Therefore, stroke not only places significant burden on the individuals and caregivers, but also on the healthcare system.

Importantly, almost all strokes can be prevented by addressing risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high levels of cholesterol and atrial fibrillation. Further, adopting a healthier lifestyle that includes moderate exercise, a balanced diet, stopping smoking and managing stress will reduce stroke risk. Knowing the signs of stroke and getting treatment quickly saves lives. Do the FAST (Face, Arms, Speech and Time) check if you think someone may have a stroke. In Malay language, use MATA, which stands for Muka (face), Angkat tangan (lift arm), Tutur (speech) and Angkat telefon (pick up the phone). We should work together to improve stroke awareness in Malaysia.

One in four of us is at risk of stroke in our lifetime, but most strokes can be prevented by taking a few simple steps. #DontBeTheOne