Skip links and keyboard navigation

Getting to the heart of indigenous health

18 June 2015

A TEAM of Cairns health professionals beat the drum for stroke prevention as part of the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival on 18 June this year.

The event is held biannually and marks a celebration of the diverse Cape York communities, their languages, songs, dances and stories and attracts more than 5000 people.

A/Clinical Coordinator and Senior Physiotherapist for the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Stroke Team Damiane Clifford said it was an ideal opportunity to highlight the need for stroke awareness in indigenous communities.

"Statistics show Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are twice as likely to experience a stroke and are susceptible, on average, at a younger age than the non-indigenous population," she said.

"This will be our second time taking part in the Laura Festival, the first time we received an overwhelming positive response and performed more than 200 blood pressure and glucose tests.

"This year we really hope to top that and drum the message home."

Ms Clifford said it was an opportunity to create closer ties with the Cape York community.

"As the only dedicated stroke unit in the Northern Peninsula many of the people we treat have ties with the Cape and having a presence outside of our base at Cairns allows us a greater appreciation for the cultures and creates a better understanding of what we can do to help," she said.

She said it was still surprising how many people were not aware of the early warning signs of stroke.

"If you know the signs, the quicker you are able to seek treatment and the greater your chances of a full recovery," she said.

The signs of stroke can be any one or a combination of weakness, numbness, difficulty speaking, dizziness, loss of vision, headache or difficulty swallowing.

Stroke is always a medical emergency and treatment should be sought immediately.

Last updated: 23 June 2015