A TEENAGER who thought he might never swim again after a devastating stroke has taken the plunge and is now training with the Lothian Racers disability squad.
Neil Ferguson, from Morningside, lived for playing sport, when his world was turned upside down shortly before Christmas in 2015.
The 15-year-old pupil at George Watson’s College had felt a pain in his neck after turning out for his school rugby team on a Saturday morning – but thought nothing of the seemingly minor incident which may have been caused after a tackle.
His neck injury eased off and over the course of the next three weeks he had slight headaches, which were treated with three separate doses of paracetemol.
However, on the morning of 23 December 2015 events took a turn for the worse.
Mum Lynne, who works as a gastroenterologist at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, told the Evening News: “He’d been off school for three days for Christmas holidays and on the 23rd December he knew something was very wrong.
“He’d got dressed but his right arm was not in the sleeve of his t-shirt and he hadn’t put his right socks and shoes on – so he was basically neglecting the right side of his body.
“I asked what was wrong and he just shook his head because he just couldn’t speak at all. He’d walked down the stairs and his arm was just limp at the side.
“I said we’d get him up to the hospital and within a couple of minutes, he was on the floor and had lost consciousness completely and that was the end of any power at all in his right side.”
It turned out Neil had torn an artery in his neck from playing rugby, which led to a clot forming in his neck where the tear had been. This travelled into his brain and that caused a devastating stroke.
He spent four-and-a-half-months, in the Sick Kids Hospital going through intensive therapy to learn to sit up and eventually walk again. The stroke left Neil with aphasia, which effects his ability to express himself through writing or speaking.
Neil now helps other children living with aphasia and stroke in Scotland. He was awarded a Life After Stroke Award at a ceremony in London earlier this month.