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Emotional Therapy For The Aftermath of a Stroke
Kim Bradley writes: I was asked to talk to a group of stroke patients at West Middlesex Hospital, Isleworth, by Ahlam Wynne who has recently been awarded The Stroke Association’s Life after Stroke Excellence Award. The talk was initially about the benefits of massage for the recovery of a stroke but in talking to Margaret and Stan (two recovering Stroke patients) it became clear that how they are FEELING was their biggest concern.
Emotional Therapy For The Aftermath of a Stroke
Talk and Demonstration at West Middlesex Hospital
11th May 2009
By Kim Bradley
I was asked to talk to a group of stroke patients at West Middlesex Hospital, Isleworth, by Ahlam Wynne who has recently been awarded The Stroke Association’s Life after Stroke Excellence Award.
I was impressed with the monthly meetings they have set up for stroke patients to hear talks on relevant subjects like Diet, the Benefits System, Speech Therapy and Complementary Healthcare. Patients who are well on their way to recovery come back to the hospital for the regular meetings to enjoy learning about something new, comradeship, chat and tea and biscuits.
The talk was initially about the benefits of massage for the recovery of a stroke but in talking to Margaret and Stan (two recovering Stroke patients) it became clear that how they are FEELING was their biggest concern.
I switched the talk to my other passion, EMO, to give them insight into how the sometimes FRIGHTENING world of EMOTIONS can be changed with an understanding how energy works in the body.
Physically, the effects of the stroke were clear to see. Margaret had her stroke in August last year (6 months ago). It was a left brain bleed that involved an operation, difficulty with speech and loss of full movement on her right side. At this stage Margaret’s speech is considerably clearer with just a slight drawl to indicate there may have been a problem, but she has right sided weakness particularly in her arm.
For Stan, his stroke was 4 years ago and he has dedicated his time since in helping others with their condition. Stan has regained full and clear speech ability but still has pins and needles down his right side, in particular his arm.
They both explained that soon after the actual stroke they soon regained mental alertness (at least enough to realise what had happened to them), but found they were in a FRIGHTENING place where their bodies were not responding to their intention, thought and will.
Even 6 months on and now able to move around again ANXIETY and FRUSTRATION are still a big part of their day. Margaret has loss of freedom from being able to drive to now having to take the bus. Both explained about the FRUSTRATION of everything taking longer, each movement having to be considered and done with deliberation. Even reaching for a drink can be an ordeal as you gauge the distance and attempt to clasp your hand around the vessel then having to navigate it to your lips – sheer FRUSTRATION. Especially when it is your main use arm and hand that has been affected. Everyday tasks that we take for granted can be viewed as a chore and something to DREAD.
Another interesting aspect of the emotions is how they feel they are viewed by others (in particular their family). They sense a FRUSTRATION from their FAMILY about the fact that doing things takes longer and they often relent and let family members “do things” for them – giving rise to less opportunity to get better at “DOING THINGS” whilst their brain makes new neural pathways and connections.
I discussed with Margaret and Stan that sometimes it is our PERCEPTION of what others are thinking and not the actual facts. Their family may in fact be feeling very PATIENT with the progress and indeed HAPPY to see the efforts being made. I know this from my own father who I care for - who has early stages of Alzheimer’s and is very partially sighted. I always wait patiently while he attempts to navigate the key into the lock to open the door. He often mentions how he feels other people’s URGENCY about the time it is taking even though I never mind how long it takes.
I asked Stan and Margaret to think about what causes them the most stress and frustration about the after effects of the stroke. I asked them to get a sense of where it feels TIGHT, UNCOMFORTABLE, HEAVY, PAINFUL or in some way DIFFERENT to what they were experiencing before they thought about their frustration. Stan was holding both his hands out in clenched fists, his arms rigid – he said it was like he wanted to PUNCH out at something. Margaret was feeling very tight in her right arm (the arm affected by the stroke). I guided them to let the tight feelings SOFTEN and FLOW out of their body in whichever way felt natural and right for them.
Watching them I could see a visible RELAXATION in their body posture, their facial expressions and breathing rate. When all the negative sensations in the arms were gone I asked them to tell me what happened in their own words.
Stan felt the energy from both his arms come into his body and travel down and out of his legs and toes. The REMARKABLE thing about Stan’s ENERGY MOVEMENT was a complete CESSATION of the pins and needles in his arm once the energy had left the body.
Margaret felt the energy movement TRAVEL up her arm and out of her stomach area.
* The movement of the Emotional Energy follows pathways akin to the Meridian Energy System that Acupuncture uses.
Once the energy had flowed out I asked them to reflect back on the frustration they were thinking about before.
I asked them “How do you feel now? Do you feel the same, or do you feel different? If you feel different, in what way do you feel different?”
Both said they didn’t feel frustrated at all and couldn’t really think why they had felt so frustrated before. Both felt their affected arm felt more relaxed and a layer of tension had been released.
We all agreed that it was very interesting and yet not surprising that the emotions they were feeling were related to energy blockages in their recovering arms.
We finished the session with a soothing massage to the hands and forearms to promote the flow of lymphatic fluid and blood flow to physically support the energy work.
Stan and Margaret agreed that this kind of Complementary Health care would be extremely useful for the full recovery of a stroke. Emotional therapy is a vital component along with physiotherapy, speech therapy, dietary changes and appropriate exercise.
Kim Bradley regularly presents on the subject of Emotional Health and as well as training the main programme of courses in EMO, she leads a 2.5 hour mini workshop call Caring for Carers.
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