April 15, 2021

A camping trip to New Brunswick with her six grandchildren seemed like the perfect way to mark a new phase of life last summer for recently retired nurse Debbie Tompkins. Until, days before the planned departure, a stroke changed everything.
Signs of stroke began slowly. Her right leg felt unhinged. The 63-year-old Halifax woman went to the hospital and, although she felt no pain, received a diagnosis of sciatica, or nerve pain. The next day, a Monday, she could barely walk. By Tuesday, she was back at the emergency department. Again, she returned home – no CT scan, no MRI, but with a plan to consult a neurologist.
The week dragged on. Sometimes she could put weight on her leg and sometimes she couldn’t. When she awoke on Sunday morning – a week to the day after her first hospital visit – she was nauseated and perspiring. She called 9-1-1. “It was too late to get a clot-busting drug” to reverse the stroke symptoms at the hospital, but she was put on blood thinners. ““Women are under-diagnosed, not listened to, and present differently,” she says.
Debbie moved from acute care to an inpatient stroke rehabilitation unit and stayed there until the end of October. While in the inpatient rehab unit, Debbie was recruited to participate in CPSR’s FLOW trial  -- the first national trial on the CanStroke Recovery Trials platform. It combines intensive rehabilitation therapy with the drug fluoxetine in an effort to enhance post-stroke recovery.
For Debbie, her participation meant an additional 12 weeks of therapy she would not have had otherwise. “I’ve really enjoyed the FLOW,” Debbie says. “It’s hard and I’m exhausted when I’m done, but it’s good.”
For her, there is no question that extra therapy provided from her involvement in CanStroke Recovery Trials put her back on the road to recovery – and rekindling her camping plans.

Learn more about the FLOW trial and other CanStroke Recovery Trials HERE.