HeART of Stroke exhibition

Stroke survivors were given the opportunity to view their artwork at the launch of a unique exhibition at Bournemouth University on 26th January 2016  

The artworks are the result of 14 workshops where stroke survivors were invited to explore new ways of seeing the world and their identity. The exhibition includes an array of collages, paintings, object installations and an interactive activities table for visitors to have a taste of what the workshops were like.

The ‘HeART of Stroke’ study was led by BU, in partnership with the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (RBCH). The study formed part of a larger investigation that included Cambridgeshire Community Services and explored whether creative expression could improve the confidence and wellbeing of stroke survivors. Funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme, the project was classified as a randomised, controlled, feasibility study looking at the role of art intervention in health care.

The research programme saw 16 people who had previously received treatment in the Stroke Unit at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital (RBH) attend 10 creative workshops over 14 weeks. During the sessions, participants were invited to create art pieces from a range of materials as a way of exploring their new situation.  More than 40 people attended the launch, including many of the participants who took part in the study. 75-year-old Marjorie Legg of Bradford Road in Throop attended the workshops after experiencing a stroke in October 2013, she said: “I had a stroke not long after my husband passed away. I had faultless treatment on the Stroke Unit at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital, but my mood continued to be very low. The stroke had stripped me of all my confidence, I didn’t want to go out and do anything. “I was a bit nervous about taking part in the workshops at first – I’d never been arty or drawn anything before in my life, but the workshops were fantastic and really built up my confidence. I now go on coach trips to see new places and have even enrolled in an evening art class. The study has shown me there is life after stroke.”

Martin de Berckem Dunn who also took part, said the study encouraged his brain to work when it felt “closed down”. He said: “I always liked to get out and do things, I feel like the sessions have brought me back – I’ve found myself again”.

Speaking at the launch, Dr. Caroline Ellis-Hill, Senior BU Lecturer in Qualitative Research, said: ““so much of stroke care and research focuses on the physical, but peoples’ sense of self is absolutely vital to their recovery and well-being.”  The team now hopes the study will form the basis of a wider project in the near future, gathering more evidence for the use of art as a positive form of rehabilitation for people following a stroke. Dr Sarah Thomas, a methodologist at Bournemouth University said: “There are promising trends in the data and interviews with participants show that many of them found the workshops helpful.”

To see a local press report in the Blackmore Vale Magazine please click here