From Stroke Victim to Paralympian: Megan Giglia’s Road to Rio

Cycling hard and against the odds, Megan positively spins towards that podium spot

For many of us, suffering a stroke or life threatening condition would be the end of our cycling career, but for Megan Giglia, it was just the beginning.

Three years ago, Megan suffered a bleed on the brain which, after many attempts, was finally sealed by removing a part of her skull and having a number of clips put in place. Megan then spent 3 weeks in intensive care.

The result of the stroke left Megan with paralysis in her right side, loss of feeling in her right leg and restricted movement in her arm. She developed three forms of epilepsy and neuro-fatigue which can affect her balance and coordination.

“Sport is a fantastic way to just put everything on hold and get those negative feelings out.” – Megan Giglia

Being a fitness coach before the stroke, Megan took to sports as a means of physio but found that it was cycling which helped her the most both physically and mentally. However, Megan was struggling due to the paralysis which made it difficult for her to raise her foot when walking.

Wishing to pursue cycling further, Megan contacted the Stroke Association to see how they could support her, so they put her in touch with Ottobock. Ottobock provide innovative and practical solutions to help restore human mobility, and assist people looking to rediscover personal independence.

Megan headed down to Ottobock where she had a customised cycling ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) made for her. Megan explains: “With my new brace I am stabilised and I feel like I am stronger and can go faster. The new AFO is connected to my cycling shoe enabling all power to go straight through the pedal. This ensures the pressure is evenly distributed and so there is no wasted energy, which is essential when competing as every bit of effort counts.”

Megan has been training hard for the Rio Paralympics at the National velodrome in Manchester. Between herself and coach, they have been devising training plans to suit Megan’s conditions in order to prevent seizures and overcome fatigue spells.

Even though Rio is Megan’s sole focus at the moment, she reveals other sporting areas she looks to revisit: “When I get some more spare time I would like to try other activities such as mountain climbing or wall climbing. I used to be a wall-climbing instructor so it would be nice to get back to doing that.”

With such a positive frame outlook after a life-changing event, Megan Giglia is truly an inspirational athlete who’s overcome the odds and is now competing at a World Level.

We wish Megan the very best of luck for the Rio Paralympic Games 2016.

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