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CPSR study helps retired firefighter regain strength, confidence

ST. JOHN’S, NL _ As a firefighter, Elias Gosling was accustomed to dealing with challenges. For 33 years, the retired assistant fire chief of Argentia responded to emergencies in Newfoundland’s picturesque inland coastal area.

But recovery from a major stroke, which happened while holidaying in Florida at age 71, has been his greatest challenge yet.

Almost nine years later, Mr. Gosling and his wife, Norma, are still working daily to regain what was lost after the stroke left him paralysed on the right side. “We used to always be on the go and active,” Mrs. Gosling says.

She describes the stroke as “a nightmare” and an “uphill battle,” but one they are determined to fight.

In the fall, the Goslings moved 125 kilometres from their home in Dunville to St. John’s in order to participate in a CPSR-funded clinical trial of exercise to improve post-stroke recovery.

“We want to do anything to help get him better,” Mrs. Gosling says as she sits and knits and waits for her husband at the L.A. Miller Centre, which is Newfoundland’s primary rehabilitation hospital.

The CPSR research trial, led by Dr. Michelle Ploughman at Memorial University, examines different kinds of physical and cognitive rehabilitation to determine the optimal mix to promote recovery.

The Goslings, who have four adult children, say participation in the study is already paying off.

“Excellent” is how Mr. Gosling describes the research. After almost 10 weeks of intensive rehabilitation, he has seen improvement in his ability to get up and down out of a chair and to use a cane to walk.

“It’s helping us to get around,” Mrs. Gosling says. “We’re hoping a wheelchair won’t be as important as a cane. That’s all we ask for. If he could just get his legs going to get back and forth to the car and washroom without the wheelchair.”

Through working with the CPSR team at Memorial, Mrs. Gosling says her husband is regaining confidence and strength.

While the Ploughman study is ongoing, research participants like the Goslings are pleased to play a part.

“You’ve got to have something to keep you going,” Mrs. Gosling says.

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