International Day of People with Disability 2021

02 December 2021

Tracey embraces every opportunity

Tracey Hockey smiling while at a cafe with her husband

Until Tracey Hockey had a stroke in 2016, she had been the one in her family that everyone came to for support. Suddenly, her life was thrown into a flux of short-term memory loss and fatigue – so much so that she has difficulty even recalling this time in her life.

It’s through the memories of her husband, Steve, and a diary she kept at the time that she’s been able to piece together a snapshot of what she went through, and how she eventually found the help she needed.

Prior to the stroke, Tracey enjoyed an active life with Steve, working as a practice manager at a GP surgery, being a support to her adult children and spending quality time with her grandchildren.

But in 2016 her body began to show signs that something wasn’t right. “Without knowing it, I had been having mini strokes, which caused me to awaken with a headache every night for six weeks prior to the big stroke that has changed my life for ever,” explains Tracey.

Tracey spent two weeks in hospital and then received rehabilitation support at home. After six months, she was determined to go back to part-time work, but it proved difficult: she still couldn’t drive, do more than one task at a time, or maintain relationships with friends or colleagues.

Finding MSWA

After struggling with these difficulties for a year, Tracey realised that she would need more help, especially if she wanted to redevelop her short-term memory, manage her fatigue, strengthen her cognitive skills, and improve her mobility.

“It is not an easy thing to ask, look, or reach out for support when you are struggling to find a new you,” explains Tracey. “I'm not sure how it happened but amidst finding my way I had the help of a lovely lady at MSWA who guided me to find the support I absolutely needed. Over the years I have remembered this lovely lady and how she has changed my life for the better.”

“All the support I have received – outside of my family – has been through MSWA and I am so thankful. The support has come to me and grown organically as needed.”

Tracey accesses tailored MSWA services and support including counselling, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, and social welfare at MSWA’s Services Centre in Wilson.

“The time I spend with my counsellor is worth its weight in gold. We work on small tasks each session and I feel I can breathe easier after our time together. The gym at Wilson is amazing, and so are the physiotherapists – they tailor everything to my needs. Hydrotherapy has also achieved some amazing improvements to my mobility, and I have regained strength in my arms,” Tracey says.

“Life can be challenging, but when you come across something that is hard, you push through. It's always easier with the help of others. Never say never, especially if you've had a stroke.”

On the cutting edge of stroke research

Tracey’s ‘never say never’ philosophy has also led to her taking part in an Edith Cowan University trial that aims to improve upper limb movement in people living with neurological conditions.

“In my life I have always gone with the flow and stepped into doors when they open,” explains Tracey. “MSWA put me on to a wonderful trial at ECU called The Mindpod Exoskeleton Trial.”

Above: Tracey Hockey wearing the Mindpod exoskeleton suit as part of an Edith Cowan University research trial.

The Mindpod project is funded by MSWA, who this year have committed a record-breaking $10 million to neurological research in Australia and worldwide. It’s another reason Tracey is happy to be receiving services from MSWA.

“As an MSWA Client it excites me to know that the services and support I'm receiving from them is new and cutting edge. MSWA's research funding makes sure that we with neuro conditions have the most up-to-date information, care and technology available. New ways of living, knowing, thinking and being.”

“I’m grateful to have found a rehabilitation provider that has given me the chance to be the best I can be.”