My father’s stroke of luck- art therapy and traumatic brain injury

In September 2005, we nearly lost my father due to a severe bleeding stroke resulting in left-side hemiplegia.  Essentially, he was left paralyzed on his left side.  He cannot walk, but he can speak and his mind is clear.  He is dependent on others for simple daily things such as transferring, toilet, dressing.  He is strong and stubborn- which has helped him immensely.  The neurological unit was a messy hectic place.  It made us feel vulnerable and desperate.

But Dad is an artist and within a few weeks of the stroke, with the hope of giving him the possibility of exploring creativity, I brought art supplies and his occupational therapist gave us a table to fit around his wheelchair.  Here is his first drawing:

It clearly illustrates his brain’s interpretation if his body.  Dad was not aware of his left side anymore.  I drew a simple sketch of a body for him to copy to see if he could recognize the left side.   The result is a charming drawing as his left side literally floats:

2 weeks later he did much better at recognizing the left side:

Over time, Dad moved to the rehabilitation ward and his techniques were back in full force.

There is no doubt that creativity and art has made life for my Dad fulfilling and rewarding.

RESOURCES

Read more about art therapy and brain injury go to:

Changing Identities: A Story of Traumatic Injury and Art

Art and Brain Injury

Northeast Center for Special Care Art Studio

From Broken Lives, Amazing Art

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