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Paralyzed stroke survivor inspires others by creating baking videos

At a young age, Peter Andrews fell in love with airplanes and later made it his profession. At just 52 years of age, he was grounded by stroke. "Bam! That was it," said Andrews. "I was normal one day and it just happened."

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Rick Armstrong
, WRAL photojournalist
DURHAM, N.C. — When Peter Andrews was younger, he grew up loving airplanes. He turned his love into his profession and became a pilot. But one day, when he was 52, he was grounded by a stroke.

"Bam -- that was it," Andrews said. "I was normal one day and it just happened."

Andrews' daughter, Justine Knight, is now communications director for the Triangle American Heart Association.

She said stroke is the leading cause of disability in the country.

"80% of strokes are preventable through healthy lifestyle changes," said Knight.

Eighty-seven percent of strokes occur when a vessel supplying blood to the brain is obstructed by a clot. Andrews' stroke happened because of sudden bleeding due to a ruptured blood vessel in the brain while he was was officiating a children's baseball game.

Andrews recalls the first two years after the stroke as the most difficult.

"It took me a year before I even said my first word," he said.

Strokes can leave resulting disabilities, including aphasia, one-sided paralysis, speech difficulties and vision problems.

Andrews is now 64. He said he often struggles to find the right words, but mentally, his daughter said he is no different.

"He could still fly a plane today, he just couldn't tell you how to do it," Knight said.

Andrews has since found a new passion -- baking bread. Since he has been paralyzed on his right side, he has to make the bread with his left hand.

Andrews said he is slow, but still has fun.

He created a 30 minute bread-making video for a virtual aphasia retreat in Maine. He hopes it can inspire others with disabilities due to stroke.

"And show that, hey you can still do it. You can still get by," he said.

Though he can’t read or write, which are common symptoms of aphasia, his video includes step-by-step recipe graphics.

Not all strokes result in long term disability, especially if others nearby are familiar with the acronym F.A.S.T. and respond to the warning signs.

"It’s FACE drooping, ARM weakness, SPEECH problems – and it’s TIME to call 911," said Knight. Often, timely emergency response can save the person’s life and possibly spare them of long-term symptoms from stroke.

Andrews and his daughter encourage all stroke survivors and family members to get involved in a local aphasia support group.

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