Outdoor activities help stroke patients recover

Update: October, 03/2018 - 09:00
Patients take part in outdoor activities at Đà Nẵng Hospital of Traditional Medicine. — Photo courtesy of Đà Nẵng Hospital of Traditional Medicine
Viet Nam News

ĐÀ NẴNG — Organising outdoor activities for patients may be unusual at most hospitals but it is normal at Đà Nẵng Hospital of Traditional Medicine.

Every Saturday and Sunday morning, dozens of patients gather at the hospital’s playground to participate in group physical activities.

Hospital staff has to be creative with the space they are given, and even rehabilitation equipment becomes a tool for games.

Once the music is turned on, the leader uses a flag to signal that the game is starting.

The patients take part in simple games. They include passing morning glory buds to other people or using a broom to hit a ball.

Sometimes, players are asked to navigate obstacles. Some players are supported by a care-giver while they are moving.

Thu Hồng, a 53-year-old patient from Quảng Nam Province, said she decided to participate in these games because it took her a year to have the strength and coordination to hold something in her hands. That is why she is not fed up with the simple tasks.

“Many activities are mundane but they are not easy for stroke patients,” 60-year-old patient Trương Hải told Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper. “Joining outdoor activities makes me feel younger.”

Hải has been in rehabilitation treatment at the hospital for the past eight months. Now he can walk a little, but he still needs help when taking part in the outdoor games.

After a stroke, patients have to relearn skills that used to be second nature. Outdoor activities help patients regain their confidence. — Photo courtesy of Đà Nẵng Hospital of Traditional Medicine

According to hospital director Nguyễn Văn Ánh, the activities encourage patients to get out of bed, be active and engage with their surroundings. This is the only way for them to recover quickly.

Most of the patients have undergone acute treatment processes. They have to relearn skills they lost when strokes impaired their ability to walk, speak and move.

Outdoor time is not only exciting for patients but is also considered a therapeutic activity.

“Physical activities that require the participants of many patients, their families and health workers will bring about coherence and understanding,” Ánh said.

American rehabilitation expert Virginia Mary Lockett said patients often face emotional and physical issues after a stroke.

As rehabilitation is a long process, she said people must be patient.

“For years, the practice of the patient is like a slow-motion movie that plays repeatedly until they master it,” Lockett said. “They need encouragement and entertainment. Therefore, we designed simple games for everyone to play and exercises to increase their confidence.”

"Doctors have combined language and movement therapy in outdoor activities," she said.

The events were held in a noisy and exciting atmosphere and the patients seemed engaged.

Despite their old age, many patients were enthusiastic players in games originally meant for children. — VNS