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Learning from Former Patients

The insights of people who have undergone extensive rehabilitation therapy can teach allied health professionals new ways to help their patients when the effort seems overwhelming. Wolfgang Wolf is such a person. Wolfgang was working in advertising and direct marketing when he suffered a major stroke in 1990. He barely survived, and at the outset of his rehabilitation he was wheelchair bound with his speech and ability to write severely impaired. While he still can only stand for brief periods, he has fully recovered all other speech and motor functions.
After years of very hard, extremely determined work with physical, occupational, and speech therapists, Mr. Wolf is now active in the stroke community both as a counselor, public speaker, and author. His succinct blogs can be very insightful for OTs, PTs, and SLPs and their patients. They may be helpful for allied health professionals to read with their patients.
Once recent example of a useful blog is “Decisions, Decisions, Decisions” http://theglassishalffull.weebly.com/decisions-decisions-decisions. Here the author identifies loss of confidence as a major obstacle to recovery for victims of a stroke, head injury, or other life changing events. One of the best ways to restore that confidence, in his opinion, is for PTs, OTs, and SLPs to gently but firmly support clients making their own decisions. He points out how many of us, from family members to health care professionals, interpret slower response times as an inability to make decisions. This is almost never the case. When the therapist stays with the patient and firmly encourages their client that he or she not only can, but should make their own decision, that person will do so. Feeling in control of one’s own decisions is a critical first step in increasing the self- confidence that is essential to developing the emotional strength needed to rise to the rehabilitation challenges ahead.
Earlier in his recovery, Wolfgang Wolf wrote a book entitled I’m Not Stupid, Just Disabled. An electronic, revised version can be purchased on Amazon. If you like the book, then encourage your clients to read it as well (or have it read aloud to them, as the situation may dictate). If short pieces are more useful, the link to his “Decisions, Decisions, Decisions” blog will lead you to other equally useful blog topics as well.
Wolf is just one example of the kind of people who have made it their mission to teach others ways to regain full, gratifying lives. Introducing your clients to these role models can decisively improve their faith in their own ability to not just survive, but to thrive again.

Robert Hoyt, Ph.D.
Allied Health Professionals, LLC
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