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Article Title

THE ROLE OF SOCIAL SUPPORT IN IDENTITY RECONSTRUCTION OF STROKE SURVIVORS

Abstract

Abigail Kroll, Eric E. Hall, FACSM. Elon University, Elon, NC.

BACKGROUND: The purpose of this research is to discover how stroke survivors have utilized their rehabilitation, social support systems, and clinicians to reconstruct their identity, as well as cope with their change in lifestyle after a stroke. Understanding the timeline of potential psychosocial effects is crucial for a clinician to prepare survivors for the identity reconstruction process, making the clinician an integral part of their post-stroke life. METHODS: Participants (n = 13) included Physical Therapists (n = 5), Occupational Therapists (n = 3), Speech-Language Pathologists (n = 4), and Doctor of Physical Therapy Student (n = 1). A 25-minute, semi-structured interview was conducted with each participant via Zoom, and recorded for transcription and analysis. RESULTS: Through conversations with practitioners, it was found that the psychosocial aspects of identity reconstruction, including post-stroke depression, are far more detrimental to the survivor than the potential physical impairments. Survivors tend to rely heavily on their clinicians for guidance through these issues, but clinicians are overwhelmed by the amount of support they are expected to give patients, despite very little education in graduate school about this aspect of rehabilitation. There are rarely mental health professionals, who specialize in the identity reconstruction process in this population, therefore the clinicians are typically the sole provider. CONCLUSIONS: Continued education for clinicians on how to give this support, as well as support for these clinicians by other professionals, is necessary for the best outcomes for the survivor.

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