On this month’s update, we are glad to share one of the most extraordinary stories that we came across to in the past months.
In February 2010, 39-year-old obsessive runner Kate Allatt suffered a catastrophic brainstem stroke. When she emerged from her medically induced coma, she was diagnosed with Locked-in Syndrome (LIS), a condition in which a patient is aware but cannot move or communicate verbally due to complete paralysis of nearly all voluntary muscles. Doctors told her husband that ‘she would be better off dead’. For the next two weeks, Kate was able to think, feel, see and hear but unable to communicate at all with her family and friends. It was her friends who spotted that she could try to communicate by blinking. For nine weeks in ICU, Kate felt lonely, suffered hallucinations, was scared, bored, frightened, isolated, vulnerable, emotional and in extreme pain.
Thanks to the support of her family, Kate went onto recover almost fully and was able to run again just twenty-one months after her debilitating stroke. Since then, she has been a global LIS advocate and campaigner. She is passionate that regular patient communication and stimulation are basic human rights for comatose, vegetative, unconscious and minimally conscious patients in hospital. Don’t miss her speech at TEDx talk on the subject in 2015.
Quite by chance, Kate’s cousin connected her to the founding Team of FamilyPlug, whose mission to connect and digitalizing the interaction between patients and their families felt immediately in line with her role as an activist.
Kate says, “the Mobile Application FamilyPlug has originated from a basic human need and certainly could have given me regular ‘virtual visits’ with family and friends when they were unable to visit me in hospital. The technology works automatically without the need for a nurse to start the smart phone or app which is essential. My loved-one voices could have not only comforted me, alleviated some of my boredom and even motivated me during those dark times.”
Today, the Team behind FamilyPlug and Kate work together in order to increase global awareness on these rare and painful conditions while actively supporting patients and their families alleviating suffering.