Stroke patients at Charing Cross Hospital showcase their art

Stroke patients at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust are making their art debut with an exhibition of their work at Charing Cross Hospital. The event coincides with The Big Draw, the world's biggest drawing festival.

The Art Rehabilitation Programme at the Imperial Stroke Centre - based at Charing Cross Hospital – allows the Trust to hold weekly art sessions for stroke patients with the aim to improve their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

It can often be the case that once someone has suffered a stroke, they lose the ability to communicate and show their feelings. By encouraging patients who have suffered a stroke to be creative, in a less clinical environment, it is hoped that patients feel more relaxed during their time in hospital and better able to express themselves. Being creative also provides an opportunity for patients to socialise with one another and build relationships during what can be a long hospital stay.

The programme is run by artist and art rehabilitator Emelie Salford and has been funded by a grant from Imperial Health Charity, which supports the Trust’s five hospitals through grants, arts, volunteering and fundraising. The charity manages a museum-accredited hospital art collection and runs a range of creative workshops for patients as part of its audience engagement programme.

The exhibition marks one year since the start of the ‘How are you feeling?’ campaign – a drive spearheaded by clinical psychologist Graham Jensch and clinical nurse specialist in stroke Ismalia de Sousa to strengthen our understanding of the many psychological problems encountered by stroke survivors.

Jennifer Crow, Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist in Stroke, said: “The Art Rehabilitation Programme offers our patients something completely different. We have been able to engage patients who were initially very reluctant to participate in therapy sessions and their contact with the programme has really made an impact on their mood and their stay in hospital.

“Engaging in art rehabilitation can help patients to work on their arm strength and skill as well as their concentration and attention in a fun and informal way. It also gives patients who are unable to speak an opportunity to express themselves in a non-verbal way.”

Dr Soma Banerjee, Consultant Stroke Physician and Head of Specialty, Imperial Stroke Centre, said: “Stroke can have a profound effect on the body and mind. Advances in our understanding and management of the condition, focused on rapid, early assessment and treatment, have significantly improved outcomes and reduced disability in stroke patients.”

The artworks are exhibited on the 9th Floor of Charing Cross Hospital and the exhibition is open to the public. The exhibition is open from 9am to 5pm and will be open until Sunday 31 December.