Game Of Thrones star Emilia Clarke, who suffered a devastating stroke eight years ago, is backing an NHS drive to improve stroke care for young people.
Clarke, who is an ambassador for the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), is supporting a programme to train more nurses to become specialists in neuro rehabilitation.
The plan will improve stroke care for those aged 18 to 40, both in the private sector and the NHS.
In March, Clarke, who plays Daenerys Targaryen in the fantasy TV series, told how she experienced a potentially fatal brain haemorrhage in 2011.
She suffered a subarachnoid haemorrhage – a rare but life-threatening type of stroke – and underwent surgery.
Clarke then launched SameYou, a charity aimed at supporting young people with brain injuries and helping them access resources to aid recovery.
Now, she is backing the RCN’s nurse training programme, plus wider NHS plans to expand the number of centralised expert stroke teams.
The Royal College of Nursing Foundation will partner with SameYou to lead the rollout of a new education programme for nurses from 2020.
Clarke, 32, said: “I have an incredibly personal experience with nurses. There’s currently a lack of eyes on brain injury recovery.
“It’s the thing that brings people back to life. It’s the thing that gives people back their life.
“With specialist nurses, I know people can get back to themselves.
“Stroke is something you never expect to happen, especially not in your 20s and 30s, but it is remarkable how often it is happening to young people.
“When you’re a young person experiencing it, the mental health aspects go unnoticed and that’s what I experienced.
“You need to be treated as a fully-rounded person and not just a list of symptoms.
“I was cared for by two specialist nurses, but I saw where the gaps were and where I had to help myself.
“I want to give young people who’ve had a stroke the opportunity to have those nurses too – to be cared for as a unique special human who can be brought back to health.”
Clarke said she put pressure on herself after being ill “to feel normal”, but that “brought on anxiety and fatigue”.
She added: “That strain exhausted me more than anything, forcing myself to feel okay.
“If I can help a young person who was in the state I was in, I know they would be lifted and feel lighter in themselves.
“The ability to feel open and vulnerable when you’re just making your mark, when you don’t want to seem vulnerable, is important.
“My goal is that a young person can have somebody they can feel vulnerable and open with and that person can help and make them feel safe.”
Deepa Korea, director of the Royal College of Nursing Foundation, said: “Nurses are real innovators who continue to push at the old boundaries.
“When it launches, this programme will be the first its kind and will give nurses a chance to help young people get their life back on track after a stroke.
“The programme focuses on improving the physical, mental and cognitive health and wellbeing of stroke patients and helping them throughout their voyage of recovery.”
Ruth May, chief nursing officer for England, said: “Improving outcomes after a stroke is a key element of the NHS long term plan, and establishing more Hyper Acute Stroke Units (HASUs) with expert nurses will build on the achievements already seen in London and Manchester.”
Every year, around 400 children in the UK have a stroke and stroke rates are rising among people aged under 50.