Monday, Dec 10th

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 20 December 2015 00:00

Rehabilitation Equipment Brings Smiles to Stroke Patients

Written by  Lim Bee Lai & Soon Fock Chuan, Klang / Translated by Lee Ren Hui

The four-staged wooden staircase made by volunteers features varying heights and steps, so that stroke patients can carry out treatment according to their conditions. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]

“This is not an ordinary staircase, but an assisting device for stroke patients. Since it is a bit expensive, volunteers visited the General Hospital and replicated one in just three days. Although it is not as good as a brand new one, this replica is practical and of good quality...” Physical therapist Chua Siew Kuan praised volunteers for their teamwork and efficiency in bringing this good news for the stroke patients.


The four-staged staircase of varying heights and steps is used for stroke patients at Klang General Hospital. When Chua Siew Kuan arranged for Tzu Chi volunteers to visit the rehabilitation department, they decided to replicate the staircase according to standard measurements and design.  In addition to the wooden staircase, there is also a set of steel gripping aid to help stroke patients to walk slowly.

The spacious Buddhist Tzu-Chi Free Clinic in Sentosa, Klang, has enabled stroke patients to practise walking again and again, to strengthen the coordination of their brain and body.

Selfless Great Love helps find a new way

On December 20, 2015, another session of the monthly physical rehabilitation treatment for the Stroke Support Group (SSG) was held at the Buddhist Tzu-Chi Free Clinic. At 12 o’clock, physical therapists and volunteers started their preparation and testing equipment in order to give the best rehabilitation treatment and counselling to the patients.

Founded in August 2014, SSG aimed to encourage stroke patients to face their challenging life with a positive attitude, and to overcome their psychological barrier with professional counselling by qualified doctors. From three to four patients in the early days, SSG is now treating more than 20 patients. The commitment and dedication of medical personnel has gradually received wide recognition.

The friendly and amicable Siew Kuan used to work as a stroke physical therapist at the Klang General Hospital for many years. When she discovered that SSG was in dire need of a physical therapist to assist stroke patients after accompanying her children as a volunteer at the free clinic, she joined them last year. She has since shouldered the mission resolutely so as to help the community.

She said, “Although I am still teaching, I still come here once a month as they really need my expertise here. I would let volunteers know about the latest development in rehabilitation and after having a better understanding of rehabilitation, they can then guide the patients on the correct rehabilitation posture for a speedy recovery. More importantly, I hope they would share the knowledge they learnt with more people...”

Throughout the years, Siew Kuan was deeply touched by the love and care put in by volunteers in encouraging patients and their families to be more courageous and confident in the face of difficulties.

She shared, “The patients who came initially were a few elders from the nursing home, but in recent months, there has been an increased number of patients seeking assistance. I am very pleased to see that everyone has regained their confidence and hope by interacting positively with one another. Their optimism is the best reward for me.”

Family members regain confidence

The clean and serene environment at the free clinic allows stroke patients to feel comfortable and calm. Family members also feel less tense and more relaxed seeing the long-lost smile on the patient’s face. Here, they exchange experiences, give encouragements among themselves and look forward to a better tomorrow.

About 16 stroke patients attended the official launch of the new rehabilitation equipment, together with many new members and their family members. Volunteers took this opportunity to approach them with cordial greetings to ease their psychological fear and anxiety, “How are you?”, “Do you do rehabilitation at home?”, “Wow, you have made progress. Very good, keep it up!”

Patients tried to use the new rehabilitation equipment under the guidance of Siew Kuan. These equipment made by Zhang Wei Hong and Tan Chin Wah were simple to use and environmental-friendly. Patients could start with simple movements guided by volunteers; and this has allowed patients to regain their confidence.

Siew Kuan admitted that companionship of family members during the rehabilitation treatment, is important to the patients. With the guidance and advice by professional personnel and trained volunteers, family members could make adjustments and improvements to the rehabilitation treatment for the patients at home. As they are the ones accompanying the patients every day, they serve as the best “physical therapist” for the patients at home.

I will hold your hand, but you have to walk your own way

For most people, walking and going up and down the stairs are easy tasks, but for stroke patients, these are challenges, whether psychologically or physically.

“It hurts! It really hurts! Slow down...” Vague voices, weak arms and painful expression. This was the first time stroke patient Xu Jian De visited SSG with his children. Following a stroke 15 months ago due to brain haemorrhage, he is undergoing rehabilitation apart from acupuncture. He tried fiddling with the assisting devices on the desktop and walking slowly, but these seemingly simple actions were challenging obstacles to him.

The experienced Siew Kuan then consoled him when massaging his shrinking and weak arm, “Never mind, it is alright. No pain, just try a little bit more!” Siew Kuan also explained to his family members, “Massage and ice treatment can effectively relieve pain. Please remember not to be too hasty. Take it slowly and most importantly, take good care of him and ensure that he does not fall. After learning all this knowledge from here, do give him support and encouragement at home, accompany him to do rehabilitation exercises every day, and help him rebuild his confidence.”

After a painful rehabilitation and some comforting words, the curl twist of wrist and fingers gradually loosened. Volunteers and family members then assisted him with some simple rehabilitation exercises. Jian De finally smiled as he felt less pain than previously.

His son was deeply moved by the love and care of physical therapists and volunteers, as well as, the “improvement” made by his father. He looked at the auxiliary equipment’s design and construction carefully, as he hopes to replicate at home so that his father can do the rehabilitation at home. “I never thought that these resources could be made into rehabilitation equipment. This would greatly reduce the cost of buying such equipment!”

Mutual encouragement helps turn over a new leaf

“Every patient has different extent and condition of stroke, therefore individual treatment is needed. Some experience weak limbs; some might experience edema and pain, while some could not coordinate their limbs and face. So the patients must start with small movements during rehabilitation so that they feel comfortable in the process, and will have more confidence to complete the next course...” Siew Kuan explained patiently to the family members.

Although it is crucial for patients to have the perseverance and courage, family members’ companionship and encouragement also play a pivotal role.

Ten Heng Yong, who suffers from stroke due to an accident last year, came for rehabilitation for the first time. He was accompanied by his wife, Yong Swee May, and daughter. The efforts and interaction between everyone, as well as, their spirit of not giving up had deeply inspired Swee May. She said smilingly, “I brought my husband for acupuncture in the past because we were unfamiliar with physical therapy. Later, a friend told us that Tzu Chi’s medical team provides medical consultation to stroke patients, so I have brought him here today, hoping that this would help improve his condition.”

She was happy to see her husband sliding his hand on the table with a small abacus “pulley helper” that promotes the movement and blood circulation of his arms. She said, “I will bring him here often during this key rehabilitation period, so that he could regain his ability to take care of himself.”

After trying a variety of assisting devices of different designs and functionality, coupled with the professional advice of physical therapists, patients and their families understand that physical therapy takes time in order to see results.

Dr Lim Lian Cheoo from TIMA shared that he was pleased with the recognition SSG has gained over the past six months; and there are now more stroke patients. He also thanked all physical therapists and volunteers for their contributions, and hopes that everyone could put the existing space and creative equipment into good use. He also hopes that more people could get to know the SSG and its rehabilitation treatment.



A simple opening ceremony was successfully concluded with everyone’s blessing. Medical volunteers bowed to thank patients and their families, and hope that SSG could bring hope to more patients in the future, putting a smile back on their faces.

 

Dr Lim Lian Cheoo from TIMA, officiated the launch and hopes that everyone could put the existing space and creative equipment into good use. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]   Patient Xu Jian De (middle, front row) made his first visit. Accompanied by his son, he tried the muscle relaxation massage given by physical therapist, Chua Siew Kuan (1st right). [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]

Dr Lim Lian Cheoo from TIMA, officiated the launch and hopes that everyone could put the existing space and creative equipment into good use. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
Patient Xu Jian De (middle, front row) made his first visit. Accompanied by his son, he tried the muscle relaxation massage given by physical therapist, Chua Siew Kuan (1st right). [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
SSG medical team demonstrated a variety of auxiliary equipment that stroke patients can use to exercise according to their own circumstances. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]   Physical therapist, Chua Siew Kuan (1st right) assisted a patient on the correct posture, hoping that the patient could achieve a better effect. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]

SSG medical team demonstrated a variety of auxiliary equipment that stroke patients can use to exercise according to their own circumstances. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
 
Physical therapist, Chua Siew Kuan (1st right) assisted a patient on the correct posture, hoping that the patient could achieve a better effect. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
A medical volunteer guided a patient to use a sliding aid, “small abacus”, that allows the patient to easily move his arm, and gradually sees results. [Photograph by Chia Heen Kheow]   A patient tried walking on the new equipment with the help of medical staff. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]

A medical volunteer guided a patient to use a sliding aid, “small abacus”, that allows the patient to easily move his arm, and gradually sees results. [Photograph by Chia Heen Kheow]
 
 
A patient tried walking on the new equipment with the help of medical staff. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
Dr Lim Lian Cheoo, who has been giving full support and concern to SSG, carefully testing the equipment, hoping that the patients can get the best treatment. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]   The efforts and interaction between everyone, as well as, the perseverance of patients and their families had deeply inspired Yong Swee May to help her husband to recover. [Photograph by Chia Heen Kheow]

Dr Lim Lian Cheoo, who has been giving full support and concern to SSG, carefully testing the equipment, hoping that the patients can get the best treatment. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
 
The efforts and interaction between everyone, as well as, the perseverance of patients and their families had deeply inspired Yong Swee May to help her husband to recover. [Photograph by Chia Heen Kheow]