At Aim2Walk, we have an open-concept main therapy area. It looks really nice! Family members and caregivers get to relax on comfortable couches instead of stiff waiting-room chairs. The sight lines allow therapists see what is going on with different patients and work interactively with other therapists. But does it really mean anything to the patients themselves? And will it help with their recovery?
We think the open concept helps to promote social aspects of therapy, allowing patients to interact with each other during their treatment sessions. This is important because social isolation is a very real problem for individuals after stroke. Research shows that during stroke recovery, individuals can experience changes related to connectedness and can become isolated from others. Variables related to connectedness and social isolation can affect the trajectory of recovery. Socially isolated patients may be at a particular risk for poor outcome due to poor compliance, depression and stress. Conversely, stroke survivors report benefits from the social aspect of group therapy and high levels of social support are associated with faster and more extensive recovery of functional status after a stroke.
Not only do we feel that our environment helps the patients have a social experience integrated with their therapy, our patients themselves feel the open concept at Aim2Walk is effective in reducing their social isolation and aiding in their recovery. Some of our patients were willing to share their thoughts with you.
Conrad appreciates the team environment and sees the therapists as taking on a coaching role. He also appreciates the opportunity to interact with other patients as his team mates in recovery.
“It’s fantastic! You can interact with people who are facing the same challenges as you are. You share ideas, you share your struggles and you say ‘Hey, I am not the only one in this.’ There is less of a chance of feeling down on yourself”
He also feels the opportunity to interact with other Aim2Walk patients improves his motivation, “If he’s doing it, then I can do it too!”.
Laura participates in a stroke support group outside of therapy, but she still feels that the less structured social support she receives at Aim2Walk is important to her recovery.
“It helps to hear other peoples’ stories because you hear their struggles. You think you are struggling by yourself, but then you hear that someone else is going through the same trials and tribulations. It helps. You don’t feel so alone.”
She also appreciates the camaraderie amongst the patients at Aim2Walk.
“That’s the fun part of it! That’s important. Being in this position can really get you down. Being with other people going through the same thing helps. They encourage you and you encourage them.”
Family members and caregivers can also benefit from the open concept approach. Lela, the mother of one of our patients, appreciates the social support she receives from other families at the clinic.
“I love it. While the patients are doing their therapy, the family members interact. You get to tell your story and listen to their stories. You can learn from each other. Maybe they have some information you need, or that can make things easier for you.”
Lela also appreciates how the open concept allows her and those who are close to Kelvin be close by and share in his therapy milestones as they happen.
“The open concept is very helpful. Kelvin can bring his girlfriend, his sister, the rest of the family… While I sit here I get to talk to people and watch Kelvin. I want to know how he is doing and how he is progressing in his therapy.”
What are your thoughts on the open concept layout at Aim2Walk? Do you feel that patients are benefitting from the opportunity to interact during therapy? Please share your thoughts and experiences with us.