Professional actors read to stroke patients at Southmead Hospital to aid recovery

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Trained actors will recite stories, prose and plays to stroke patients at Southmead Hospital to help them recover faster.

North Bristol NHS Trust is working with InterAct Reading Service which provides professional actors and broadcasters to perform live and interactive readings to people who have had a stroke.

The rehabilitation unit at Southmead takes patients after they have been treated at the acute stroke unit at Frenchay if they need longer inpatient care.

Southmead will be the first hospital in the South West to work with InterAct Reading Service.

Rehabilitation for stroke patients can be a long process with some people spending several weeks in hospital before continuing their recovery at home or in a residential home.
It is thought that reading and conversational interaction stimulates the brain helping to improve the rehabilitation and recovery process.

Many stroke patients cannot read for themselves because of the damage to the brain and communication can sometimes be difficult.

It is hoped that the interactive reading sessions will alleviate boredom and depression that many stroke patients go through.

Readers visit the ward up to four times a week to perform stories, poetry and jokes.
The service will be launched at Southmead Hospital on September 7 with a concert for patients and staff by singers from EnVision Theatre.

A free fundraising concert will also be held at the Mansion House, Clifton Down, at 7.30pm on September 7. 

Dr Neil Baldwin, stroke clinical lead at NBT, said: "Stroke is the most common cause of long-term disability and recovery often takes time.

"The illness often affects vision and the language centre of the brain so patients often cannot read or even follow TV.

"We hope the innovative InterAct service will stimulate patients during their stay in hospital and help to motivate them to recover.

"We are very pleased to be the first Trust in the South West to offer this service."

Actor, teacher and former theatre director Arabella Tresilian, is South West co-ordinator for InterAct.

She said: "When my late mother was in hospital following her stroke, our presence, conversation and singing at her bedside were by far the most powerful tools for giving her a fighting chance of recovery.

"When I read later of the award-winning work being done by InterAct, I knew how powerful it would be in causing brain recovery in stroke patients and so I wanted to put my acting background to use.

"There was no service in the region until now so we are raising funds to secure a three-year service delivery and we are delighted to have been welcomed by North Bristol NHS Trust."