Stroke survivors showcase their art at Charing Cross Hospital exhibition

Stroke patients at Charing Cross Hospital are making their artistic debut with an exhibition of their work. The exhibition, Art: A Powerful Form of Expression opened on Tuesday 29 October to coincide with World Stroke Day.

The Art Rehabilitation Programme at Charing Cross Hospital’s Imperial Stroke Centre allows stroke patients to take part weekly art sessions with the aim of improving 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 and providing them with a less clinical environment to do it in, it is hoped they will feel more relaxed during their time in hospital and be 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.

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, has significantly improved outcomes and reduced disability in stroke patients.

“However, all too often there remain significant physical and psychological barriers to patients’ recovery. Rehabilitation after stroke is therefore vital, but often a long, and difficult path. The inability to communicate and express feelings can leave patients feeling trapped and depressed. The Art Rehabilitation Programme aims to improve patients’ physical, mental, and emotional well-being by encouraging self-expression through painting and drawing.”

Jennifer Crow, Clinical Specialist OT 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.”

The exhibition will take place on the 9th floor of Charing Cross Hospital and will be open to the public until September 2020.