‘I’ve recovered from terrifying locked-in syndrome’

A 35-year-old woman who had locked-in syndrome has spoken of her gradual recovery from the condition.

Clodagh Dunlop, from Magherafelt in County Londonderry, suffered a massive stroke in April and was unable to move or speak for almost three months.

But on her birthday she started to show signs of breaking free and is now learning to walk again.


Clodagh, a police officer, told the BBC that for nearly three months she couldn’t move and was only able to communicate through blinking.

She was able to hear everything that was going on around her but couldn’t respond.

She said: “I could see my family and partner, Adrian, were so upset and I wanted to reassure them, but I couldn’t do anything.”

Remarkable moment

On her birthday a friend came to visit her and she tried to communicate that she wanted tablets:

“I screamed at her and that was the first time I could make noise and my arms moved slightly.”

She said that in that “remarkable moment”, she “went from angry to overjoyed”.

Silent observer

Clodagh regained her speech and some movement and is now learning to walk again at a brain injury unit in Belfast.

She said: “You are a silent observer of the world when you are locked in. I want to share my experience so I can help others and make a difference.”

She added that she is hoping to return to her job as a PSNI officer in Londonderry one day and is “just taking every day as it comes”.

Pleased and proud

Last year, a severely paralysed mother said she is “so pleased and proud” after completing a university degree – by blinking.

Dawn Faizey Webster had a major stroke two weeks after her son was born and developed locked-in syndrome.

She finished a degree with the Open University in Ancient History.