Community stroke rehabilitation team getting patients back on their feet

By Anne Kay

In 2014 a series of medical events turned Cora King’s world upside down, but the Community Stroke Rehabilitation Team helped make her world right again.

Cora, then 37, was living in a tranquil rural setting in Middlesex County, leading a busy life caring for her husband and two young boys and working at a Community Health Centre. She had the first inkling something might be wrong when she started dropping things and had trouble moving her legs.

After many diagnostic tests, Cora was given the devastating news she had a brain tumour. Next she had a seizure, then pneumonia, and finally a stroke.  She was gravely ill, but fine medical care, the love and support of her husband, and her steely determination carried her through.

Once Cora’s health stabilized, she continued her recovery at St. Joseph’s Health Care London’s Parkwood Institute.  When she was discharged home in January 2016 the Thames Valley Community Stroke Rehabilitation Team (CSRT) swung into action. “The health care professionals on the CSRT provide intensive rehabilitation in clients’ homes so they can achieve their rehabilitation goals,” explains occupational therapist (OT) Martha Scott. “We take a very holistic approach to care, so clients can become more independent and reintegrate into their community.”

As an OT, Martha helped Cora relearn activities of daily living such as dressing and showering. The physiotherapist helped Cora learn to walk again, and the speech language pathologist and OT assisted her with thinking skills such as memory and scheduling.  The therapeutic recreation specialist taught her activities like colouring and knitting to help retrain hand dominance. The social worker supported Cora and her husband in addressing their new family roles, and the nurse provided education about medications and healthy lifestyle choices. Finally, the rehabilitation therapist practiced therapy plans with Martha so she could meet her goals.

“I believe one of the reasons Cora had an incredible recovery is because she is so motivated,” says Martha.

“My desire to be independent outweighed my frustration with my physical limitations,” says Cora  The members of Cora’s church were supportive and offered to alter a pew to fit her wheelchair . “I said no thank you; they were amazed when I walked into church with just a quad cane.”

These days Cora is once again living a full life managing household chores, attending a day program, going to her children’s activities and socializing with friends and family.

With her can-do attitude, Cora’s advice to others who have had a stroke is, “Never stop trying—if you think you can you will.”

Information on the three CSRTs in the South West LHIN

View a video about how the CSRT helped Martha on her recovery journey

 Anne Kay is a Communication Consultant at St. Joseph’s Health Care London.