A STROKE victim who was told she only had a 50 per cent chance to survive and would be severely disabled if she did recover defied the odds after taking part in horse riding and dressage.

Sheila Brand, 60, from Guisborough, suffered a large bleed to the left side of her brain in 2015.

A doctor at accident and emergency told her husband Dave that Sheila had only a 50 per cent chance of survival and she would be severely disabled if she did survive.

Sheila had an operation to remove the blood on her brain from the bleed which had caused the stroke. She was initially unconscious and over a few days it became obvious that she couldn't talk and was paralysed on the left side of her face.

Sheila was transferred to Redcar Care Hospital where she underwent physiotherapy to help regain some of her movement. Once home she received lots of support from Occupational Therapist and the Recovering Independence team.

Dave Brand, Sheila's husband, said: "We were advised that recovery was an individual process and it was not possible to predict how it would go. Sheila had to be taught how to dress herself, and do basic things for herself; it was like starting all over again.

"Now, Sheila has come a long way since her initial diagnosis, and is mobile again, although she has challenges with walking, especially on uneven surfaces.

"Sheila can also speak well but she does still struggle with names and finding the right words.”

Sheila was supported by the Stroke Association's Communication Support Service, to help build new communication skills and also rebuild her confidence.

Three years after her stroke, avid horse rider Sheila visited the Unicorn Centre, Hemlington, a horse-riding school that enables people with disabilities to enjoy riding. Sheila enjoyed lessons and took part in a dressage competition.

Sheila said: "“I’ve always owned and ridden horses it has always been a massive part of my life. After my stroke I always had hope that I’d get back to horse riding. I just couldn’t not do it.”

Sheila is now a volunteer with the Stroke Association and takes great satisfaction helping other stroke survivors.

Dave added: “We both really benefitted from the Stroke Association’s Communication Support Group."