Six months after a stroke, 50 percent of people still have weakness on one side of the body, 30 percent require assistance to walk, 19 percent have some type of speech difficulty and 35 percent show symptoms of depression.
A young mother desperate to change her baby’s diaper despite hand paralysis. A former professional ballerina who longed to dance with her husband. A New Orleans jazz saxophonist who was determined to cook his favorite pasta dish again.
These are just three of the stroke survivors that Dr. Barbara Doucet, Assistant Professor at the School of Allied Health Professions Department of Occupational Therapy, has helped to achieve a significant life goal through the creation of a free post-stroke clinic at LSU Health.
Since the clinic opened earlier this year, our students, under faculty supervision, have provided over 200 hours of rehabilitation therapy.
Barbara Doucet, PhD
Current neuroscience research demonstrates that people living with the effects of stroke can and do continue to recover long after six months. However, insurers typically only provide rehabilitative services for six months after a stroke.
Dr. Doucet was well aware of the research and the fact that there are too many people living with the effects of stroke who are uninsured, underinsured or have run out of insurance options. She needed a partner to make her vision of a free post-stroke clinic a reality.
The Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation took a special interest in the program, and invested $12,000 into the clinic, which allowed LSU Health to host the free clinic twice a month for 10 months, providing patients living with the effects of stroke with much needed occupational, physical and speech therapy services, provided by our Allied Health Professions students and faculty.
“This clinic is special to me because these patients are able to receive therapy services they need, and our students benefit by learning to provide care to real patients with actual medical conditions. Study after study shows that this is a superior learning experience when compared to the traditional classroom lecture,” said Dr. Doucet.
Her patients are the success stories. The young mom was shown an adaptive process to change her baby’s diaper that included strategies to position her child and to use her affected arm for stabilization. The ballerina was positioned in front of a mirror and instinctively began her natural arm and trunk movements in unison with the classical music that her student therapists brought for her session, while her husband looked on and was visibly moved. The saxophonist was able to incorporate his weak hand into his cooking process by holding the pot, pouring the sauce over the pasta into small bowls, and delivering his delicious creation to his fellow clinic participants for their enjoyment.
The LSU Health Post-Stroke clinic is the consummate example of the significant impact that private support, such as that received from the Reeve Foundation, can have on our students and our community.