Name: Tamaya Van Criekinge, MSc, PT
Hometown: Antwerp, Belgium
Current Position: PhD candidate at the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy, REVAKI/MOVANT, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium

Q: What made you interested in a career in stroke?

A: During my bachelor studies at the KU Leuven, my grandfather had a stroke, which was very devastating for our entire family. I learned firsthand what the impact of a stroke could be on a person and their caregivers; for that reason, I wanted to pursue a career that enabled me to help as many stroke survivors as possible.

Q: What has been your career path into this field?

A: In 2014, I graduated as a physiotherapist with a specialized master’s degree in neurological rehabilitation. Afterwards, I started working in the rehabilitation hospital RevArte, where I treated patients with a variety of musculoskeletal and neurological pathologies, including stroke. In 2015, I took upon the challenge to expand my own knowledge concerning stroke rehabilitation and started working with stroke survivors in a more research-related setting, while also teaching the physiotherapists of tomorrow about stroke rehabilitation, gait analysis and trunk biomechanics. 

Q: Who is your stroke mentor or stroke hero?

A: Without a single doubt, I can say that my grandfather is my stroke hero. He has been living with a severe hemiplegia for the last eight years without losing the joy of living. It is admirable how he has managed living his life to the fullest despite his disability.

Q: What is a piece of advice you would give to a trainee?

A: Dare to think outside of the box! Routines and habits are comfortable and easy, yet being innovative and challenging yourself on a daily basis should be uncomfortable. Embrace the discomfort.

Q: What is your favorite hobby or way of de-stressing?

A: Cuddling or going on long nature walks with my dog, Dexter.

Q: What is your favorite place to travel to?

A: Scotland, for sure. With its beautiful landscapes, excellent whisky and the versatile hiking trials, Scotland is definitely one of my favorite places.