Op-Ed Importance of relevant rehabilitation


Stroke patients often have to go through rehabilitation for a long part of their life, if not all of their life, however, many lose the motivation to continually practice beyond the clinical setting but when their insurance runs out they have to be able to practice on their own time. They can’t just go on without practicing for the next six months while they wait for the next opportunity to go to rehab again, however, some and many do. It’s difficult to give up on yourself and being able to be independent again as a patient, however, some accept that because they’ve given up on recovering and it shouldn’t be that way. Trying to find out why people lose motivation and why they give up is something that is important and that I’m trying to find out how to increase motivation can be important for a consistent rehabilitation and recovery.

My goal for primary research was to find what motivates people to keep a consistent rehabilitation and how to increase rehabilitation outside of the clinical space. Since it’s been difficult to find occupational therapists and stroke patients to speak with due to privacy reasons, I tried to look for alternative and I found that rehabilitation and working out is one of the things that I found to be very similar to one another.

Research on Working Out Habits

Rehab is similar to working out and finding what works for people that work out, can be similarly translated to increasing consistency in rehab routines. Of course it isn’t exactly the same, however, the habits and behaviors on keeping a consistent work out routine can let me know a lot about human behavior that can translate into rehab routines. Talking to a few people that have worked out for a long time in their life and some that maybe started recently helped me figure out some basic understanding on how to keep a moving forward with a learn habit.

There were three things that I broke down and found to help build a good habit for working out. One was that location matters, many found that being at home make them less likely to work out or even less motivated in doing so. What helped them to find that motivation was to go to a gym where everyone is working out and where all the machinery you could ever need was there too. They’d feel motivated to work out and be more productive consistently because everyone around them were doing so. Similar to why people go to the library instead of being at home to study and work on assignments, when you see people working hard, it makes you also want to work hard.

The second, was to have a friend or a companion with them. Having someone there with you and also struggling or working out with you makes you more motivated to do it. They can also be there to keep you on track or motivate you to keep going if there are days where you don’t want to go or if you don’t feel motivated to go. They’re the ones that keep you on track to the goal, and also vice versa, you can also keep them on track too on days where they feel unmotivated to do so. Having someone to keep you company while doing things is very comforting and also less stressful because you’re both new at it or you’re both willing to learn with each other.

The third and last good habit I found about working out, was consistency. Although many might overlook this fact, it’s something that can be very important on days were you feel unmotivated or struggling. Having a consistent schedule where you go every Monday and Wednesday really help you maintain working out for long period of time because on those days when you don’t feel motivated, having a daily schedule to help you through can ground you and also make them feel reassured. Similar to having a routine and schedule in school, having a peace of mind that there is a sense of stability in your every day life.

Through these primary interviews I found there were three things that can possibly help with rehabilitation consistency is having a safe place to practice, having friend, family or companion to do so with, and having a schedule.

Survey Research

The majority of stroke patients are above the age of sixty, and after that age, their chances of getting a stroke is doubled. Often those above the age of sixty are retired and don’t work and after my survey research, generally stay at home and for those suffering from a stroke, they stay home even more afterwards. Perhaps it’s from embarrassment from needing help from those around them, but they generally go outside less after having a stroke.

From my own research and also a previous senior research, I found that seniors often feel lonely at an older age. All their kids have grown up and become independent, their grandchildren have so too and have their own life outside of their homes. Maybe all their friends have all moved away or so on, the people they mainly see every day are their family but often they are away at work, school, or time for themselves and their own friends.

Having a good support system is something that is important in recovery, however, they can’t always be there for you and there are something that you can only easily talk to a friend about and not family. Being independent is something that people enjoy and also thrive from and having a support system outside of family is important but older seniors may not have the resources to find people like that if they can’t leave the house often.

Finding a hobby is something that older people tend to do when they have more free time, often without the worry of money and working, they try to find something they never knew they were interested in or didn’t have the luxury to be interested in. From my survey, I asked people what they activities they weren’t able to do anymore and some listed hobbies that they had such as gardening, hiking, etc. For older individuals, being unable to do a hobby on their free time anymore can be crushing because it was the one thing that make them happy. I wanted a way so that these individuals would be able to do something they love again with the help of rehabilitation.


To find out how specific exercises can relate to other activates, I did a codesign with Annie in meeting several occupational therapists students and O.T. professors. During these activates we asked them to pick from a list of topics they thing their patients would be interested in. This list came from my survey answers and from this the main two topics that were chosen for the OTs to work on were cooking and gardening. Then we asked them to relate certain hand gestures and movements to an activity they have chosen. For example, “cooking an egg” they would then list out the steps to cook and egg and gestural practices that can go along with each step. This showed what specific OT practices can directly correlate with certain activities and what activities seems to be popular with stroke patients.