Episode 8: Sophie

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In this episode we are introduced to Sophie who is an occupational therapist. During the height of the pandemic, she worked in an acute stroke ward where she was charged with caring for patients who had experienced significant cognitive, physical or sensory deficits. It was her role to help these patients attempt to regain independence in their lives.

During the episode, Sophie focuses on a specific patient who was admitted with “the worst classification of stroke you could possibly get”. His arms and his legs had stopped functioning; he had completely lost perception of one half of the world; his vision had been impaired and he struggled to both produce and understand language. The man’s suffering was compounded by the fact that his family were not able to visit him due to pandemic restrictions. Sophie describes the situation as being a “devastating thing for everyone involved.”

Initially, Sophie and her team were not sure how much the man was able to understand but, as he was attempting to communicate with his wife during a video call, he burst into tears. He then reached out to the team that was caring for him and he gave Sophie a hug, which she describes as “the best hug I’ve ever had in my life”. It was clear the man understood what was happening: this team were trying to help him to recover in order to get him back to his wife and family.

Very soon after the stroke, the man began mobilising using a wheelchair. Bearing in mind that he had initially been completely bed-bound, this was a major step forward. In order to provide independence showering, a shower stool was set up along with a bar which he could hold on to. As a result, with minimal supervision, the man was now able to shower on his own.

However, one of the most difficult and significant achievements was still to come. Sophie describes the unappreciated complexity involved in making a drink. She talks about the stability and balance required in both arms and legs, the need to reach up for a cup or bend down to get to the fridge. All of these movements are complex and would have been extremely difficult for someone who had suffered a severe stroke to achieve. Yet, the man achieved a task which would make him feel himself again, he made his family a cup of tea.

The man’s progress has continued. He is now able to sleep in the same bedroom as his wife, something that had not been deemed possible upon admission. He has also been able to get in and out of the car and go for a drink in his local beer garden. All of this has been possible due to the expertise of Sophie’s team and the sheer determination of the man in his attempts to regain functionality.

Sophie speaks with pride and admiration as she reflects on how much has been achieved in this specific case and the man’s gratitude for her efforts. “He knew he may never walk again but we’d given him that freedom back.”

Also, if you’re a medical professional who is looking to work in the UK, and you need to pass either IELTS or OET, go to www.swooshenglish.com .

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