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Trainer helping senior woman exercising with a bosu balance

Stroke Survivors Worldwide Desperately Seeking Great Care. Don’t Be a Deceiving Professional

15 Million People Suffer Stroke Each Year. There is a huge “real” need for stroke survivors to have continued physical therapy after their insurance has covered their (usually very limited) physical therapy sessions.

It’s an important time for fitness professionals to step up and gain stronger knowledge in physical rehabilitation with stroke survivors. This need is worldwide!

I know this because I have helped survivors worldwide and heard their stories of struggle. I’ve personally heard their human desire to get their bodies back to movements for everyday life. This includes things like walking, arm and hand function, balance, cognitive skills, stability, driving and much more!! Hundreds of thousands of survivors are desperately seeking proper care and guidance.

I have been asked by stroke survivors and caregivers worldwide for help. After I published my first book in 2017, The Stroke of an Artist, The Journey of a Stroke Survivor and a Fitness Trainer, I began being contacted from all over the world for help. I wanted so badly to help them all.

I also received calls and messages from personal trainers who had a survivor client. I was surprised at how some reacted. For example, one trainer, after spending an hour sharing knowledge and telling him to seek out more education beyond the one-day certification he had, responded with “So basically…” — he tried to sum up in one sentence how to train a survivor. And he had it all covered. I thought, wow, that survivor’s recovery is determined by this trainer’s ego and lack of listening skills. Most trainers I spoke with wanted a quick answer to full-body stroke recovery. They did not want to take the time needed to extend their knowledge.

I decided to begin a Stroke Recovery support group via private Facebook group page. There are almost 3000 members. It breaks my heart, but it keeps me constantly motivated to do what I can to help them and try my best to educate fitness professionals.

It is wonderful to have such a gathering from all over the world in this stroke recovery support group. It is serial and fascinating.  Everyone is so kind and supportive in the group to one another. They encourage and try to help each other so much.

Look at all the different countries our members have gathered together from: Israel, Europe, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, UK, Africa, Great Britain, Vietnam, New Zealand, Scotland, Philippines, Fiji, Ireland, Indonesia, Micronesia, Mumbai, Maharashtra, Turkey, and many States in the United States.

I know how real the urgent need is for fitness professionals to gain knowledge to help survivors get their lives back.

I decided to help get the survivors and caregivers educated since finding the professionals to help them sucked.

I then wrote my book, Stroke Recovery, What Now? When Physical Therapy Ends But Your Recovery Continues

Around this time Lisa Dougherty with the MedFit Education Foundation contacted me to be on the Education Advisory Board and write a Stroke Recovery and Exercise CEC course. I was very excited to have a platform to reach professionals to educate them to bring needed care to stroke survivors.

Fitness professionals and physical therapists must continue their education way beyond the basics of getting their original certification, license and credentials.

Hundreds of survivors have shared with me their struggles to find great care. The stories blow my mind and frustrated me tremendously.

Here is one recent story.

A 54-year-old female survivor, who lives 3 hours away from me, was so excited and filled with hope again after we met in my support group and reading my books and watching my videos. She began to get hand movement back and decided to go find a physical therapist again. She searched, asked questions and found someone who appeared and sounded like they had the knowledge and expertise to help her. She was excited, she sent me a private message and told me what the therapist said. It sounded good. This therapist spoke the neuro words.

This survivor shared in the support group how excited she was and tagged me, thanking me for helping her feel hope again. Everyone was proud of her and encouraging her. I was thrilled.

A few days ago, she sent me a message that after her 5th session with this therapist, the therapist told her that she’d never worked with a stroke survivor before and can’t help her.  She said she had gained more knowledge and recovery from me than 5 sessions with this therapist.

This upsets me so much. She deserves great care and real help. All stroke survivors do. Now she has wasted 5 insurance paid PT session and 5 co-pays. That is not okay!

I have hundreds of stories like this and some are worse.

So, to all fitness professionals and therapists…

Please don’t fake your knowledge and experience to gain a client. Don’t just talk the talk. Put the time and effort into continuing your education. Have integrity, a heart of passion and honesty in your work.

This can mean someone may walk or not walk again.

This can mean someone can hold a fork in their hand again or not.

This may mean someone can go back to work or never again.

And so much more!

In the case of the Survivor who was an artist in my first book, it meant he would paint again or not. He did paint again.

Survivors are encouraged and try to believe, never give up and don’t quit. But they need to have educated professionals they can trust to join their personal stroke recovery team.

And the fabulous 54-year-old stroke Survivor refers to me as “God’s Stroke Angel”. That makes my heart feel warm and fuzzy. ❤

I will be presenting a 4-hour “Stroke Recovery and Exercise” workshop on Thursday, February 6 from 7:30-11:30am at the Medical Fitness Tour in Irvine, CA (at UC Irvine campus). Find details at medicalfitnesstour.org/socal. Come gain a lot of knowledge to help stroke survivors gain the stroke recovery the deserve.

Fitness Specialist and Educator Tracy Markley is the Founder of Tracy’s Personal Training, Pilates & Yoga in Florence, OR. Tracy has over 2 decades experience in the fitness industry; she holds numerous specialty certifications, including many for those with medical conditions & chronic disease. She’s also studied the Brain and the neurological system, and has had great success working with seniors and special populations in stroke recovery, neurological challenges and fall prevention. Tracy also serves on the MedFit Education Foundation Advisory Board

She’s authored 3 books: “The Stroke of An Artist, The Journey of A Fitness Trainer and A Stroke Survivor” and “Tipping Toward Balance, A Fitness Trainer’s Guide to Stability and Walking” and “Stroke Recovery, What Now? When Physical Therapy Ends, But Your Recovery Continues”. Her books bring hope, knowledge and exercises to those in need, as well as sharing her knowledge and experience with other fitness professionals.

CT scan of the patient's brain and the hand of a doctor.

82-year-old Stroke Survivor & Wife Travel From New Jersey to Oregon To Train with Tracy L. Markley

Last year, I received an email from a wonderful woman who lives on the New Jersey Coast. She had read my books and wanted to know if she could fly herself and her 82-year-old stroke survivor husband to Florence Oregon, to train with me. She shard some stories of trainers refusing to work with him and those who did not have the knowledge needed. She also shared a couple stories about physical therapist not wanting to bother with using specific equipment that was needed for him. This is so disappointing. He is now almost 4 years post-stroke and she has still searched out some guidance toward a better recovery for him. It saddens me with all that she has gone through, but I am grateful that I could help, the best I know how. I made some great life time friends.

I am honored that she reached out to me.  I am still in “ahh”, by the whole experience. Often stroke survivors and their caregivers do not find the help needed to further their recovery after physical therapy ends. Unfortunately, some survivors do not even get good physical therapy in the crucial, early stages in recovery, when it is essentially needed. She shared with me some not so good experiences she and her husband had faced, like many others I have spoken with.

They arrived the last week of September 2018, and we met to train almost every day for 4 weeks. It was a productive training month for him. He made some important gains, but has much more hard work to do. I am helping them find a professional near them with the neuro and biomechanics knowledge, needed to bring him further in recovery.

She shared with me that what sold her to come see me was a handwritten note I sent to her inside of the book order she had. She ordered “The Stroke of An Artist, The Journey of A Fitness Trainer and a Stroke Survivor.”  I knew she would get more out of help with that book if I sent her my second book “Tipping Toward Balance, A Fitness Trainer’s Guide to Stability and Balance.” I included it with the other book as a gift.  I had no idea that that would lead to her and her husband taking a journey from the Jersey coast to the Oregon coast to train with me in person.  It is very special.

I have surveyed 100s of stroke survivors in the challenges they have faced finding good guidance in further recovery. Even though there are good stories, there were a much higher amount of disappointing experiences many survivors and their caregivers have faced. Some keep pushing forward and some gave up.

Gain Education to Work with Stroke Survivors

If you’re a fitness professional interested in learning how you can work with stroke survivor, Tracy is the author of a 4 hour online course with PTontheNet, Stroke Recovery and Exercise.


Article reprinted with permission from Tracy Markley. 


Fitness Specialist and Educator Tracy Markley is the Founder of Tracy’s Personal Training, Pilates & Yoga in Florence, OR. Tracy has over 2 decades experience in the fitness industry; she holds numerous specialty certifications, including many for those with medical conditions & chronic disease. She’s also studied the Brain and the neurological system, and has had great success working with seniors and special populations in stroke recovery, neurological challenges and fall prevention. Tracy also serves on the MedFit Education Foundation Advisory Board

She’s authored 3 books: “The Stroke of An Artist, The Journey of A Fitness Trainer and A Stroke Survivor” and “Tipping Toward Balance, A Fitness Trainer’s Guide to Stability and Walking” and “Stroke Recovery, What Now? When Physical Therapy Ends, But Your Recovery Continues”. Her books bring hope, knowledge and exercises to those in need, as well as sharing her knowledge and experience with other fitness professionals.