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Overcoming strokes

American Heart Assn.’s Saving Strokes Golf Clinic pairs pros with patients to do some rehabilitation.

May 22, 2010|By Joyce Rudolph

Paul Vago suffered a stroke a year ago March and recently completed outpatient physical therapy at Glendale Adventist Medical Center.

“The physical therapists got me to walk,” he said. “They encouraged me every step of the way. My left side was pretty much inoperable.”

An avid golfer before the stroke, Vago said he has been out to the driving range a few times to work on his swing but the ball keeps pulling to the left.


The Glendale resident will attend the American Heart Assn.’s Saving Strokes Golf Clinic for stroke patients and their caregivers Wednesday at Griffith Park Golf Course. Golf pros, instructed by Glendale Adventist volunteers on stroke recovery, will be on hand to provide some personal attention.

“I’d like to get back my swing,” Vago said. “Maybe somebody can show me what I can do to correct it. Golf is a great opportunity to get together with my sons. I have two and they are both golfers.”

Vago’s physician, Dr. Lance Lee, director of the stroke program at Glendale Adventist, believes golf is a great exercise for stroke victims, whether they played the game or not before the stroke.

“You walk around and it’s a light exercise, not a heavy impact sport,” he said. “If you’ve had a mild stroke, I’m sure you can participate.”

He referred to a 1999 study from the University of Chicago that found golf helps patients with their focus, dexterity and balance, and can also improve a patient’s strength and flexibility.

“The exercise itself requires all those elements and one gains endurance carrying the bag,” Lee said.

Strokes are the third leading cause of death and the No. 1 cause of disability for those 50 and older in the United States, Lee added.

“So we are trying to create an awareness of stroke,” he said. “We have lectures, public gatherings and fundraisers.”

This is the first golf clinic in Los Angeles presented by the American Heart Assn. said Jennifer Halldorson, State Stroke Alliances director.

Halldorson, who is based in Sacramento, said other golf clinics have been held in Northern California, Nevada and Utah.

“It’s very exciting,” she said. “The program is a very grass roots program. Glendale Adventist has been a fantastic sponsor and very engaged in participant recruitment and overall involvement in setting up the event and being a part of the process.”

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