Simon is 77 and suffered a stroke 6 months ago. This has left him with a paralysed right arm and much reduced feeling in the right hand. Simon has led a full life and is deeply frustrated by not being able to use his dominant arm.
The therapist sits opposite Simon and starts the session using a pair of felt balls. The balls are passed to and fro in a dactyl rhythm (dactyl = long – short, short). Simon is encouraged to use his weaker arm to grip the ball even though it sometimes falls to the side. This gentle introduction helps to rhythmically awaken the body and bring the arms into motion.
Helping Simon to stand and supporting his weakened side, the therapist walks alongside as Simon learns to carefully lift, carry and place the foot in a conscious manner. With practise Simon can later manage some steps unsupported and even to take a few backward steps.
Considerable time is taken over the eight weeks to learn a particular sequence of vowels and consonants (S, M, A [ah], L, M, I [ee] and T, M, U [oo]) that assist stroke patients. These are carefully practised singly and together with both arms and feet. Sometimes the therapist assists the weakened arm so that Simon can feel how both arms can work together.
At the end of the period the arm is still paralysed but more flexible and Simon insists he can now feel more with his hand. Occasionally he is able to get some slight movement into the fingers. Simon is encouraged by his increased confidence and the modest improvement in flexibility. He decides to continue practising for himself.