Gary and his Gazelle Arroyo C8 HMB

July 19, 2018
Bikes Gazelle Arroyo

For Gary Fujioka, Sr. it was a Wednesday like any other - until it wasn’t. At just after 1 P.M. working at the desk in his home office, he suffered a massive ischemic stroke, struck out of the blue with confusion, difficulty communicating and understanding, weakness and numbness. He soon found himself in the back of an ambulance rushing towards the hospital.

Didn't want to miss his cousin's wedding

After an assessment doctors quickly administered tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), an intravenous protein developed to dissolve clots when given in the hyperacute time window in acute ischemic stroke (AIS), three hours from symptom onset.

In a transient moment of lucidity Gary told medical staff he did not want to miss his cousin’s wedding on the upcoming Friday. He learned instead there was a significant likelihood he would never see his own home again.

His family members gathered and watched as he was given deficit assessment tests every 15 minutes with agonizing results. When shown the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale images he could not correctly name a glove, key, chair, or feather. He was unable to read or repeat a list of words. After 2 A.M. he was allowed to sleep in 30-minute intervals between tests.

Gazelle Arroyo C8 HMB

At 4:00 A.M. he woke, and something was different. The fog had lifted. The tPA had worked and remarkably, there was no apparent deficit. He saw his daughter sleeping in a chair, and his son sleeping on the floor next to the hospital bed. Alert and wanting to let his brothers know he was alright, he completed the New York Times Crossword on his iPad and emailed it to them.

Today, thankful for his recovery Gary rides his Gazelle Arroyo C8 HMB, staying active and intent on preventing a recurrence. Cycling is widely recognized as post-stroke restorative therapy. Adaptive cycling is widely used in rehabilitation where hemiparesis (post-stroke weakness on one side of the body) is present.

Regular aerobic physical activity

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association recommends regular aerobic physical activity such as cycling for stroke survivors with minimal to no functional limitations. Studies show that post-stroke patients engaging in moderate aerobic activity have increased endurance and better outcomes.

“Electric bikes were new to me,” he said, “but they make every ride enjoyable and help me increase my range and endurance,” said Gary.

He often begins his rides on the Sammamish River Trail near his home, an 11-mile trail rolling through the Washington state’s Sammamish River Valley affording views of Mt. Rainier and the Cascade foothills.

Dutch-style city bike

“The Gazelle Arroyo is a Dutch-style city bike so it’s comfortable and easy to ride. The Bosch Performance Line motor is very smooth and quiet. It’s beautifully engineered and built, and an electric bike makes the health benefits of aerobic physical activity available to everyone,” he said.

Now Gary treks throughout the scenic Pacific Northwest on his Gazelle with his Havanese Rory happily riding along in a basket. He posits that regular cycling breaks might have prevented his stroke in the first place. And three days after being rushed to the EvergreenHealth Medical Center Primary Stroke Center he watched proudly as his cousin and bride exchange wedding vows.

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