My mother, Alberta, likes having a schedule. Before her stroke, her life was highly routinized. She was always up by 5:30 a.m.–at the office by 7:30–home by 3:30–dinner was by 4:00– and at 4:30 she was always watching Judge Judy. Her nightly bath was at 6:00 and she was in bed by 7:00 p.m.
Once our mom left the inpatient rehab facility, she soon started outpatient rehab 3-4 times a week. This routine of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy was grueling– but our mother needed something to do.
I appreciated speech therapy the most. The speech pathologist was the first (and only) person who explained the nature of our mom’s stroke to us.
Frontal Lobe – Front part of the brain; involved in planning, organizing, problem solving, selective attention, personality and a variety of “higher cognitive functions” including behavior and emotions.
The speech pathologist informed us that the area of the brain where our mom had her stroke (frontal lobe) governs sequence, organization and memory. She explained that speech is more than just verbal ability. It is all about how we see ourselves in space. It was the first time anyone mentioned how the brain damage from the stroke affected how our mom perceives and misperceives herself and others in the world around her. As a result of the stroke, our mom is much more impulsive and restless. And she has no filter for her thoughts. If she thinks the food you made is bad, she will not sugar coat it. She tells it like (she thinks) it is.
The speech pathologist, however, gave us tools and cognitive exercises to kick-start our mom’s brain back into appropriate action. We were also encouraged to get a (paper) calendar so that our mother could anticipate her daily schedule and routine.
The speech pathologist explained that we all need awareness (a sense of ourselves in time and space) to effectively function in the world.
When our mom first started outpatient rehab she was in a wheelchair and was using a right sided hemi-walker to stand up, sit down and shuffle from place to place. Midway through rehab, our mom started using a 4 pronged cane to walk. We were also told to “ditch the wheelchair.”
When outpatient rehab (4 months) was over, the discharge advice was: Keep walking. Walking boosts brain function.