I failed to notice that the train, I was on was actually sat on, was already at my destination train station, Cheltenham Spa. Truthfully, I was rather too immersed in my new One Love Manchester playlist on Spotify. So I was forced to quickly – stroke survivors don’t do anything at speed- exit the train in just my bare feet, seconds before it continued onto its final stop, Plymouth.
As usual, because of my damned OCD, I arrived six hours early to deliver ‘My Recovering Brain’ talk, panel discussion and audience Q & A session, at Cheltenham Science Festival 2017. Reflecting on it, I could have traveled all the way to Plymouth and still got back to Cheltenham Spa in time to deliver my talk!
Cheltenham Science Festival is an annual event which attracts the world’s greatest scientists, big thinkers and comedy geniuses to help us answer some pretty big questions. Even our PM – for now- Theresa May – visited the day before the election, although it seems she didn’t get any answers to her big questions!
Our session was to be chaired by fellow obsessive spinning enthusiast Julia Wheeler, a former BBC Gulf correspondent and journalist. Joining us was Dr Parashkev Nachev senior clinical research associate at the Institute of Neurology at UCL. His research deals primarily with behavioural neurology. I’ll be honest I was a little intimidated!
We were invited to talk about the recovering brain to a sold out paying audience – that’s a first for me! (Ok, so it was only £8 a ticket, but that was the closest I’d get to being like my new guilty pleasure, Ariana Grande!!)
I kicked off proceedings with a ten minute justification for why I believe the brain recovers. I spent my short talk explaining why self-belief combined with repetitive, frequent and intensive effort by the patient, with a damaged brain, can and DOES dramatically improve brain recovery. I used video evidence of some of the remarkable and instant results, from patients all over the world I’ve visited over the last six years. The crowd were aghast, engaged and interactive.
Then Dr Nachev spoke and explained how the scientific theory behind brain recovery, was now catching up with me! He talked about how we needed to treat all brains individually and that ‘trying’ repetitively was the key to recovery or improvement. Therefore, our challenge was to try to unlock patient motivation.
I was quite emotional, extremely proud and felt totally vindicated after all these lonely years of campaigning/educating/boring & alienating family and close friends about locked in syndrome and patients. My breakthrough moment must have felt similar to how Erin Brokovich must have felt when she made the link between water and illness in her famous film, years ago.
So when Dr Nachev – a respected expert in the field – agreed and confirmed that the scientific community was now aligned with MY brain recovery theories, I was stoked. Furthermore he said,
“The future [of brain recovery] belongs to a very different way of thinking, one that is closely aligned with your [ME] own.” Dr Nachev.
He went onto say that,
“Knowing how to motivate cognitive brainstem stroke patients who aren’t as motivated as me was the challenge and we needed more research on motivation…. but that every stroke patient needed a ‘shot of Kate Allatt’ in their arms to aid their recovery.’
In absence of that injection watch my short film, I uploaded some years ago to be inspired!