Communicate without Words

"Communication is the process by which shared meaning is created." 

CO 101

That's the first lesson we learned in Communications class back in college.

Communication isn't spoken words or written words of photos or symbols or sounds or touches. Or even scents or tastes.  Those are all just vehicles for communication. They are the trucks intended to carry the freight of meaning from one person to another.

After stroke, some of those trucks are no longer available. Aphasia and dysarthria may interfere with speech. Hemiparesis may interfere with writing or gestures. Sensory overload and attention challenges may interfere with listening.

And yet communication continues. Because the other lesson we learned in the class CO101 is, "You can't not communicate."

Combine those principles with the idea that your actions always speak louder than your words, and we have deeper understanding of how important it is for clinicians to think deliberately about the things they say and do when working with clients.

Marabeth Quin and Physical Therapist Danielle Stoller joined me in this episode to share their stories and how they came to develop Expanded Practice -- a training program for clinicians that helps them tune their communication strategies to build better relationships with their patients.

Note: This isn’t the first time I talked about communication in an academic context. This was also something I talked about with Drs. Sara Parsloe and Patricia Geist-Martin in episode 111 at http://Strokecast.com/process.

If you don't see the audio player below, visit the original post at http://Strokecast.com/ExpandedPractice.


Who are Danielle and Marabeth?

Danielle Stoller is a neuro physical therapist who helps stroke and brain injury survivors improve their lives through a holistic rehab approach.  Marabeth Quin uses the experiences and insights she has gained from her daughter’s stroke recovery to improve therapist’s understanding of the mental and emotional aspects at play in the recovery process.  Together they co-founded Expanded Practice.

The top half reads Expanded Practice. The bottom half includes headshots of Danielle Stoller and Marabeth Quin

Expanded Practice

Expanded Practice is the training organization that Danielle and Marabeth started  once they saw the need to help therapists connect more effectively with their patients.

Their goal in part is to go beyond the technical details of the tasks that go into a session and to help therapists think more about the client experience -- to connect to the clients as individuals with specific therapeutic, emotional, and psychological needs. That's not about providing counseling per se; it's about understanding the patient and building a trusting relationship with them to promote a more effective session.

In some ways it parallels the work I've done as a corporate training help folks learn how to sell technology products. It's not about the high-tech features of the product. It never is. It's about what those features and those products will do for the customer. Effective salespeople ask themselves, "How will this product or service make THIS customer's life better? How will this benefit them?"

To answer that, they have to talk to their customers and ask questions. They put the focus on the customers' lives.

That focus on the client is something Danielle and Marabeth teach to. As we talked about in the episode,  they teach therapists about the environment they create. If the therapist appears rushed or tense, that will affect the client's perception of what is happening. That increase in tension makes a session less effective.

Here's how Marabeth and Danielle describe the program:

Expanded Practice teaches physical, occupational, and speech therapists to start utilizing the power of positive mindsets and expectations in the recovery process so they can connect with their patients on a more significant level and help them reach greater recovery potentials.  Expanded Practice is passionate about improving the rehab experience for patients and therapists so both thrive and achieve the highest possible outcome.

Stroke Awareness Month

May is Stroke awareness month in the US.

What does that mean for you? Well, whatever you want it to.

It's a month when many survivors will share their stories or post on social media about how to recognize a stroke or just have personal conversations with others they are close to.

Some may choose more subtle signs, like adding a stroke awareness frame to a Facebook avatar or wearing a red ribbon.

Some may give a talk at school, church, or work to help raise awareness.

And many folks will choose to treat it like any other month.

What matters most is to treat it in the way that best supports your needs, goals, and recovery.

And if you want to do something, but you're not sure what, you can always tell folks about your favorite stroke related podcast :).

Or find a new stroke podcast to listen to at http://Strokecast.com/strokerelatedpodcasts.

Hacks of the week

Two guests again means 2 hacks.

Marabeth makes a point of reminding us to keep going. The thing about recovery -- whatever part you're in -- is that it can be easy to stop and give up. It seems so enticing to do that somedays. It really does.

But then you stop getting better. And you may get worse. Even when it's hard, you have to keep going. That's the only way to get to the better days that are coming.

Danielle suggested looking at trees. Even better is getting outside into nature -- even if it's just a short time. There's research demonstrating this helps with recovery.

Getting out and being near the grass and trees and plants helps. And it can be one of the cheapest things you can do to help your recovery.


(If you don't see a table of links, visit http://Strokecast.com/ExpandedPractice)

Where do we go from here?

Here is the latest episode of The Strokecast

No comments: