Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

IPads aid treatment for stroke survivors

Help speech pathologist reach northern patients

  • Print

Grace Jonasson's iPad was a game-changer for her stroke treatment. The 50-year-old, who had a stroke three years ago, keeps a daily journal on her iPad and uses apps to improve her speech and memory.

"I've almost gotten my old self back," she said. "It's sped up my recovery."

At first blush it may seem an unusual treatment method, but a new program is putting iPads in the hands of stroke patients in northern Manitoba who may not have access to regular treatment.

Jonasson lives in Wabowden, about 100 kilometres south of Thompson, making it difficult for her to visit a speech pathologist. By using the iPad and meeting via video chat with her speech pathologist in Winnipeg, she said her treatment has rapidly excelled.

"You cannot get change in the brain unless you're working three hours a week on an activity focused on brain change," said Allison Baird, speech pathologist at SpeechWorks Inc. in Winnipeg and creator of the project.

Baird used to make northern visits once a month to see patients, which is not nearly enough time to make a difference in their rehabilitation, she said.

"They sit and their brains go to sleep," she said about the lack of patient treatment. "I knew some of these people and I was struggling with how to treat them."

It was in fall of 2010 that she first came up with the concept of using iPads for treatment, but it wasn't until the end of January 2012 that the project got up and running with a $157,000 grant from Manitoba Patient Access Network, partnering with the Northern Regional Health Authority and MBTelehealth.

The iPads, she said, provide a solution to the lack of treatment, using memory game apps or speech apps that say words aloud and couple them with pictures. Even the regular programs on the tablet, such as to-do lists, calendars and a journal, have helped significantly, she adds.

Jonasson said she lost dexterity after her stroke and the iPad's touch screen allowed her to write down her thoughts in a journal and communicate.

"Having to do a personal journal helped me reflect on my emotions," she said.

She started to joke and laugh again after her treatment, Jonasson said. Memory and maze games also helped her to complete tasks and to improve memory and focus. Now she thinks she'll be able to return to work as early as the fall.

Cristin Smook, stroke rehabilitation co-ordinator for the Northern Regional Health Authority in Thompson, said the treatment has also fostered awareness in northern Manitoba about strokes and the health conditions that lead to them.

"There's now a resource for them in the north, whereas they were always being sent to Winnipeg for anything stroke-related. It's kind of a stepping stone for bigger things we could do in the north," she said.

There are 10 iPads in the program, with the program being completely full since it began, said Smook. As for the technology, Smook said part of the therapy is teaching people how to use the tablets and learn a new skill. Tech-savviness hasn't really been a barrier, she said.

The most drastic changes Baird said she's seen is in relationships.

"Suddenly you have something that pulls people towards you," she said. "If you're sitting in a wheelchair and you're mumbling and no one can understand you, or you're angry, if you have a device that pulls people in, you've created a huge life experience that person has lost."

jennifer.ford@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 3, 2012 A5

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Winnipeg Jets Bogosian-Little-Ladd

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A female Mallard duck leads a group of duckings on a morning swim through the reflections in the Assiniboine River at The Forks Monday.     (WAYNE GLOWACKI/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) Winnipeg Free Press  June 18 2012
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Gardening Column- Assiniboine Park English Garden. July 19, 2002.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think the Scottish independence referendum will have an effect in Canada?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google