Dec 11, 2016 News
– emphasizes need to end stigma associated with stroke
Developing a stroke or some neurological condition that incapacitates the anatomy does not mean
the end of an individual’s productive life. This assertion was last Thursday made by Mr. Dexter George, the Physiotherapist who heads the Ministry of Public Health’s Rehabilitation Service.
Currently the Rehab Services programme is housed at the Brickdam, Georgetown Geriatric Home.
According to George, many people are of the view that “once I have a stroke, for example, this is the end of my life…I can’t do anything anymore. But that is not true; there is a lot you can do even after you develop a stroke.”
“We are trying to eradicate that stigma that persons with a stroke have no purpose…that is not true. Once they are rehabilitated, they can still drive, they can still do their work in the office, they can still be employed,” said George who emphasised that “lying down in your bed and feeling sorry for yourself will only make your situation worse.”
After being diagnosed with a stroke and efforts are made to manage such a condition, a patient’s restoration is usually dependent on the work of the rehabilitation services.
“If you have difficulty in walking, moving the hand or even speech, we can work on that and bring that patient back to as much function as possible, and this is through constant therapy,” said George.
This, however, is not a simple task since, according to the Physiotherapist, “it comprises a lot of stages, a lot of effort, and it continues over a long period of time… it is not a ‘here today and tomorrow you leave’ kind of initiative.”
But even more work usually has to be done to restore some patients.
In order to boost the morale of patients to complement their physical progress, George said that a ‘stroke survivors’ group was created a few years ago, and represents an initiative of the Georgetown rehabilitation services. Rehabilitation services are also offered regionally.
“Once we know that all the targets are completed, we don’t want patients to be putting themselves in expense (and keep coming to us for therapy) so we instead invite them to become a part of a group,” George related.
Although referred to as a ‘stroke survivors’ group, George said that it isn’t at all only intended to cater to persons who would have suffered a stroke. He, however, noted that stroke victims constitute the majority of patients who seek rehabilitation services.
There is currently an average of 150 individuals who are part of the programme. In addition to those who are victims of stroke, there are others who have suffered from the Guillain -Barré Syndrome – a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system, and then there are those who suffer neurological disorders.
The group, George disclosed, comprises persons who would have been victims of these conditions that warranted them being in a rehabilitation programme. George pointed out that oftentimes rehabilitation programmes are able to return persons to as much as 98 percent functionality, if not completely, thus putting them in a position to become productive members of society.
According to George, who has held the position of Head Physiotherapist since the month of March, there are a growing number of patients turning up in need of therapy because they would have developed a stroke.
“We are seeing a large number of these patients,” said George as he noted that once persons are able to successfully undergo the rehabilitation programme through the “survivor” programme they are placed on track to be fully restored.
“They are encouraged to return to work, to do things independently and try to be more active at home,” said George, who pointed out that “through their involvement with the group, persons are encouraged to come and share their experiences, they are exposed to new techniques that are developed and motivational talks.”
Several of the patients who are a part of the group who have showed considerable improvements were on Thursday, last, the patrons of a Christmas social held at the Kingston, Georgetown, Umana Yana.
“This year many of them will be able to enjoy Christmas because of the progress they have made,” said George, as he asserted that ensuring that progress is retained will require that patients maintain good behavioural changes that will keep them in a healthy condition.
“Even at Christmas it is still wise to be cautious and don’t overdo….people need to eat right, exercise, take your medication on time, follow up with your doctors and clinics and keep focused on maintaining the progress that has been made,” George stressed.
This is the second year that the social has been held for the group, and George anticipates that it will become an annual feature with the support of corporate Guyana and other individuals who are willing to give in some way to the noble notion of recognising the progress that can be made when therapy is successful.
In addition to being treated to a wide variety of dishes and drinks, the patients, some of whom were accompanied by family members, were also able to participate in some Christmas carol singing too.
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