[2012-07-26] Every year approximately 30,000 Swedes suffer a stroke. In a matter of minutes, one's life can fall apart and change direction completely.
Emergency health care handles immediate treatment of a stroke patient, but what happens next? What kind of rehabilitation focuses on the patient and motivates him or her to continue on and rediscover the joy of living?
“Rehabilitation takes a couple of weeks, but the patient may experience functional disorders that last his/her entire life. The challenge in health care is to establish a long term and valuable relationship with the patient,” says Richard Levi, Chief Physician at Norrland's University Hospital and Professor of rehabilitation medicine.
Can generate interesting results
To obtain new creative ideas about rehabilitation of people with neurological damage, Richard Levi contacted the Institute of Design in the spring of 2011 and proposed collaborative work.
“I have worked with design in connection with the concept of rehabilitation for spinal marrow patients and know that it can generate very interesting results,” he says.
The Institute of Design liked the idea and created a ten week project for students in the Master's programme in Interaction design in cooperation with Neurorehab Sävar from Västerbotten's County Council and Rehab Station Stockholm, run by Praktikertjänst.
Exciting to gain insight
“We travelled down to Stockholm and interviewed patients, family members and employees for a couple of days. We also got permission to go home with a patient and document that person's life,” says Ine Marie Vassøy, one of the students participating in the project.
“It was very exciting to gain insight into other people's lives in that way. But also sensitive in regards to the maladies they had encountered.”
After the research phase, all information was categorised and structured in a mapping system, using, for example, post-it notes with quotes and information where different categories, processes and feelings were colour-coded.
Patients were passed around
“We are specialists in finding problems and discovered quickly that there was a lot that could be improved. The patient was passed around among different people, sometimes out of context. We wanted to create an overall solution.”
Ine Marie Vassøy's group, which included Sharon Williams and Linus Persson, developed a service they call CoCharge. In CoCharge, the patient receives a welcome kit from the doctor in connection with the diagnosis. The kit contains information about the disease, accounts from other persons who have the disease, a log-in to a digital network where they can exchange experience and contact health care professionals.
Establish networks and share experience
“It's important that all health-care personnel involved are constantly updated about the patient. But establishing a network with others who can offer tips and share experience is also vital,” says Ine Marie Vassøy.
Richard Levi is impressed by the results.
“They are creative and cost-efficient solutions. The students really identified the problems and didn't talk about the colour of the walls.”
Will you put the results to use?
“I hope so. Discussions are being held, but it takes time to change processes in the county council. We sent one of the teachers to Washington to present their results at an international conference. It generated interest.” says Richard Levi. He has now started a new collaboration with the Institute of Design about how persons who must use electric wheelchairs can perceive the wheelchair as part of their bodies.
Text: Johan Wickström
Illustration: Ine Marie Vassøy, Sharon Williams and Linus Persson
Editor: Karin Wikman
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