Walking, talking and smiling
Neo Kam Tong used to go for morning walks regularly until she suffered a stroke. She felt down as daily activities such as moving from bed to wheelchair was challenging. Even her speech was affected.
Kam Tong transferred to St Luke’s Hospital for rehabilitation. At her first physiotherapy session, her sister Yit Wah saw how the therapist gave Kam Tong confidence to overcome the fear of falling and start exercising.
The exercises involved different activities. For example, playing a card game while standing helped improve endurance and balance. Yit Wah said, “Therapists use simple things like clothes pegs and card games to engage patients. They have fun while doing therapy.” From needing help to transfer from bed to wheelchair, Kam Tong progressed to walking with a walking frame.
Kam Tong also progressed in her speech. Yit Wah said, “The speech therapists were skillful and encouraging. The customised exercises enabled her to progress from a whisper to even being able to shout.”
For Kam Tong’s 70th birthday, Yit Wah gathered family members to celebrate it in the hospital. Nurses surprised the family with a birthday cake and song. Yit Wah said, “It was a very special memory for my sister. That was the sweetest smile she has had since her stroke.”
Yit Wah felt supported as a caregiver. One evening, a nurse acknowledged and encouraged Yit Wah’s efforts in caring for her sister. Yit Wah added the doctor also “took time to discuss my sister’s medical conditions and helped us think through the best way to manage them”.
Hospitalisation “is a time when patients and caregivers feel down and struggle to accept the loss of mobility and independence”, said Yit Wah. “The supportive and encouraging environment, and cheerful smiles help us in recovery. The chapel services gave us spiritual strength to carry on.”
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