During a sweltering week on the island of Jamaica in November 2012, Colleen Sullivan was a physical therapy student working all day in humid conditions with local survivors of stroke as part of an outreach program through Arcadia University. The program, known as Stroke Camp, was an intensive week of therapy to help improve the lives of the people who participated. The amazing progress she witnessed in the hard working participants was never far from her mind. Now a physical therapist at Magee, Colleen was inspired by her past experience to develop a similar program at the Riverfront Outpatient Center. The month of March brought snow instead of stifling heat, and the first Magee Stroke Camp run by Colleen and Magee occupational therapist, Al Vernacchio.
Magee’s Stroke Camp is an intensive program in which people who have had a stroke attend three hours of therapy a day, five days per week, for two weeks. This program is not for the faint of heart, and it includes a physical therapy session, an occupational therapy session, and a group session. The individual and group sessions focus on performing many repetitions of a movement. Research on recovery of function after a stroke has shown that a person needs to perform hundreds of repetitions of a movement in order for the brain to “rewire” itself. PT Colleen and OT Al focused on activities based on the individual goals of each of the four participants in this inaugural class. For example, one participant wanted to improve his grip holding a chef knife in his dominant hand, which was also the side that was more affected following his stroke. To achieve this goal, the group worked together to make pizza and this participant practice chopping and slicing vegetables for the top of the pizza. Another participant wanted to work on her walking speed to improve her safety while walking at home. Over the course of 10 days of therapy, she not only increased her walking speed; more importantly, she verbalized that she increased her confidence in her ability to walk safely at home and in the community. Every Stroke Camp participant improved their walking speed, balance, or arm function at the conclusion of the two weeks. Some of the participants even demonstrated improvements in all three areas.
To qualify for the program, participants must be able to walk short distances with or without a walker or cane, have some arm movement, and be committed to attending the half day program every weekday for two weeks straight.
If you would like more information on Stroke Camp, please contact Magee Riverfront at 215-218-3900. Just one more way we Believe in a Way Back.