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Your Healthy Family: Ollice Burke recovers from stroke and returns to football field

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After suffering a stroke in 2013, Ollice Burke has returned to athletics at a high level. After suffering a stroke in 2013, Ollice Burke has returned to athletics at a high level.

As we talk more about the comprehensive stroke center designation UCHealth Memorial it’s important to get the word out not only about the designation, but it will only be effective if community education about stroke is increased.

Many people in our community have gotten their stroke education the hard way, like Ollice Burke.  When I spoke with Ollice last fall, he was feeling great and showing no signs of the significant stroke he suffered three years ago.  

Ollice told me, “I feel great I feel better than most people.”

In February of 2013 Ollice wasn't feeling so well, when he suffered a stroke playing in an organized basketball game.  While Ollice didn’t suffer what he recognized as the common signs of stroke like slurred speech or facial drooping, he knew things just weren't right.

“I knew something was wrong because I called timeout, and I told my coach that I didn't feel well.  I still remember what it felt like, I just felt so hot, I just got hot, it's not like a pain or anything I just was hot.  The last thing I remember that night is when I dropped the water bottle and I passed out.”

Ollice says he was in a coma for 13 weeks at UCHealth Memorial.  When we woke up he couldn't walk and was having trouble talking.  He spent nearly 50 days in the hospital learning how to get back on his feet literally get back on his feet.  While the deficits of his stroke were significant at first, and even life changing Ollice was determined to get back on his feet.

“I think from the moment I left Memorial hospital, I kinda knew I was going to get back to normal,  I expected to get back to walking and running.”  

Ollice did much more than just walking and running.  In 2017 he returned to athletics at a high level playing semi-pro football for the Colorado Springs Cyclones as a quarterback and receiver.   

The return to the football field has helped Ollice keep life in proper perspective.  “Now I look at things like everything can change in a heartbeat, it really can.”  He now also knows everything there is to know about stroke awareness and he wants to make sure you know the signs of a stroke and what to do also.  “It's one of those things where you should at least know that if your friend starts showing signs of a stroke immediately call 911”

The signs of a stroke can be best remembered by the acronym BE FAST.

B - Balance (having trouble with balance)

E - Eyesight (trouble with eyesight, or eyes looking strange)

F - Facial Drooping

A - Arm Weakness

S - Speech (slurred or having trouble speaking, or confused speech)

T - Time to call 9-1-1 (Time is brain)

So remember if you or a loved one is having any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 right away.

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