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Stroke survivors work on their golf strokes for rehabilitation

Posted: 7:26 PM, Mar 22, 2018
Updated: 2018-03-23 01:26:55Z

A group of stroke survivors joined together to work on their golf strokes on the course at the J.W. Marriott Starr Pass Resort on Thursday, all thanks to the American Heart/Stroke Association's "Saving Strokes" event.

Among them was former Pima County Sheriff's Deputy Tracy Suitt.

"I had my stroke on December 1, 2015," he said. "When I had the stroke, I lost my entire right side."

But if you were to watch him practice from afar, you'd never be able to guess he had ever suffered a stroke.

"It needs a little work," Suitt said. "But, like most golfers that aren't very good, you live for that one great golf shot, and I've seen that today."

Organizers of the event say golfing can be used as a legitimate rehabilitation tool for stroke survivors. It gives them time to practice both gross and fine motor skills, and they also say it can be positive on their states of mind.

"There's a lot to just being able to stand, swing your arms, maintain your balance, weight shift, and get your power behind the club," HealthSouth Director of Therapy McHailey Haeflinger said.

The participants worked with a few golf instructors on their game, so they could learn more about swing mechanics and the game.

"To get them out here onto the golf course, and start working on things like balance and swinging the golf club at the same time is doing nothing but positive building for those fine motor skills," golf pro David Lee said.

Suitt is on board with the idea. He knows his brain has to re-learn many basic things, like how to operate certain parts of his body, and he knows it takes time. That being said, he has a lot of life left to live, and plans to work on recovery every day.

"The brain will learn. You can continue to improve as time goes on," he said. "To get back to where I am, it's been 2 and a half years. I'm still improving, I still see changes every day. You have to be patient. I mean, if you try to push it and rush, you're going to get frustrated, get angry, and probably stop going through with the treatment."