I am Heinrich Kuhn,
55 years old,
Teacher of the Alexander-Technique,
As Physical therapist and therapist for the Alexander-Technique I have been working with stroke patients for over 28 years – both in a clinical setting and at home with their families. In December 2010 I suffered a stroke myself and was hemiplegic on the left side, so I got to experience the “other side”, this time being a patient.
Because of my long professional experience and practice I have experienced this time much different than other stroke patients. Communication played a key role in my experience and this is why this blog came about.
3 Levels Of Communication
This website does not focus on the medical aspect of stroke. It is rather a communication platform from a stroke patient for stroke patients. The topic of communication that I want to introduce you to has 3 levels or aspects
Systemic – Communication with family and friends
Physical – Communication with your own body
Technical – Video technology as a new form of communication and as a new source of residual income
Communication With Family And Friends
Stroke patients not only suffer from restrictions in their mobility and the loss of self-determined life with all their own set of problems, in many cases there are also problems in the communication with caretakers and other people in their lives. Home care can become a very complicated matter if the communication is difficult.
It is not easy to mutually understand each other, especially in this situation where the act of speaking itself might have its own challenges. The patient is often introverted or overwhealmed by new impressions, new informations and feelings of despair and hopelessness. He struggles with his capabilities (or the lack of), this new sense of consciousness, is looking for perspectives, is frustrated or has already given up. The way of thinking and the sensitivity has changed. The patient not only experiences problems to speak clearly in a technical way, but also has to process too many impressions, thoughts and feelings that it is difficult to catch up with them for himself – let alone share them all with his beloved ones.
The family on the other hand might have problems to accept these changes and limitations. The stroke hit them unsuspected as well and they try to go on with their normal lives. They HAVE to go on with their lives to stay healthy themselves. And most people have not learned to clearly communicate their limits and set boundaries. So this process is in many cases rather emotional – which is not the best basis for clear communication.
Because of these communication problems, the quality of the relationships within the family suffers. I want to share my own experiences on this blog, hoping to help other stroke patients and their beloved ones to bridge the helplessness and to improve their communication with each other.
Communication With Your Own Body
The methods of the Alexander-Technique has enriched my profession and changed my work with patients dramatically. It allowed me to learn the skill of “Inner Communication”, which helped me to recover from my stroke much faster and to not lose all my motoric capabilities. In other words – I was able to maintain the communication between my brain and my body, keep my consciousness inside my limbs and those parts of my body who had become immovable. This way the stream of neuronal stimulations was never interrupted.
As humans, we have various supporting reflexes and mechanisms which intend to make our lives easier and to protect it. Today, many people talk about sustainability to express that we should not waste our resources, not exploit or pollute our earth and rather protect what nurtures us, water, air and earth.
We can do the same with ourselves and treat us in a sustainable and ecological way.
This is much easier to do by using the methods of the Alexander-Technique. They help us to become present – as well in our bodies as in life itself. This presence allows us to live a self-determined life on many levels. When I work with clients or patients, I don’t “treat” them in a sense I would do as a physiotherapist. My “work” is of a different quality – and the focus is on how to become present and self-organized.
My professional background and all my experience with stroke patients and my intimate knowledge and familiarity with staying present had a great impact and made it easy for me to consciously keep the presence in my body and to keep “living” in it, and not let it slip away or give it up. I may have (temporarily) lost control over it, but I have never lost the inner communication with the left side of my paralyzed body.
During that time, when I could only control my thoughts but hardly my body, where I could not move my left side at all, I realized what “normally” happens to stroke patients:
Suddenly a very different self consciousness
My left side: cracking and breaking ice, cold, frozen, like a icy shower
Overwhealming fatigue, hard to resist
Just tired, so tired like never in my life
A strong pull out of my left side of the body, like a genie out of the lamp
An irresistable power
I knew that I needed to withstand and NOT surrender to this pull, this undercurrent, this tiredness, this exodus out of my left side. So I used my years of experience from the Alexander-Technique to keep up the communication with myself and inside myself so this “inner communication” between by mind and my body did not get interrrupted.
But my people are hit by stroke unprepared. They wouldn’t know what to do. They have just lived their lives, have done their work, followed their routine, coming home at night glad, that the day is over. For those people (at least those that I have met), this is different. They experience their stroke in their own way – more or less conscious until they lose it completely. And hours, days, weeks or months later they “wake up” again…
But then everything has changed – their “globe”, their world has turned into a “disc”.
The Idea For The “InstantAidProject” Was Born
Physicians are only interested in medical questions like: “Where is the damage located?” – ” How long was the supply interrupted?”
Patients on the other hand are more interested in how their future life will be. If they have love sports, dancing or playing instruments… – will they be able to pursue their hobbies again? This motivation is a huge factor that determines, how they will make their “way back”, with how much motivation they “fight back into life”.
Any stroke therapy usually starts AFTERWARDS. After everything is “over”. After the brain damage is done and the body might be paralized. Then therapy tries to repair what is to repair.
But wouldn’t it be better, if there was a way to do something WHILE the stroke happens which might reduce its impact and possibly prevent paralysis or at least make recovery faster and easier?
It would certainly be good if every person could learn the Alexander-Technique and the methods to stay present in the body. In other words: to be prepared in case of stroke. But unfortunately, this goal is unrealistic.
Nevertheless, my intention is to extend the existing First Aid care with additional treatments (Instant Aid) which help to maintain the communicatin between brain and body, so that patients have a better chance for full rehabilitation.
If this inner communication is not (no longer) possible from the inside, it has to come from the outside!
This realization is what started the “InstantAidProject”. My goal is to initiate an scientific study which explores the options and documents their outcome scientifically. Once we know which treatment is most effective, all ER doctors and nurses should be educated in this procedure and it should become part of the standard treatment routine for stroke patients. This way, all people would get a the best treatment in case of stroke.
Click here to learn more about the “InstantAidProject“
Communication With The Help Of Modern Communication Technology
After my stroke I also had the problem how to recover my economical basis. In this situation, where I could no longer work in my profession and was rather limited in what I could do, I was introduced to TalkFusion. The use of this modern video technology not only allowed me to keep up the communication with my clients and my family, it also opened up an additional income stream. Like it did for me, this business oppportunity could also help other stroke patients facing the same problem.
Last but not least, I used this video technology to create some of the content for this blog. I allows me to introduce myself to my readers and share my experiences and insight with a larger audience, so that I can eventually get the required number of stories from stroke patients for the InstantAidProject.
This Blog Focuses On Three Main Topics:
1. On The „InstantAidProject“
My experiences as being a stroke patient with over 28 years of experience in treating other stroke patients and 24 years of work with inner communication revealed that the prognosis of stroke patients could be improved significantly.
2. On „Inner Communication
What does it mean in practice to “organize yourself / your self”? And how is this relevant in this situation, especially after a stroke? “Inner Communication” happens ALL the time! But only if I am able to use it INTENIONALLY (and in fact do it) I can benefit from it.
3. On „Survival“
A stroke can be one of the most debilitating events that affects all areas of life, including the financial situation. Old structures are no longer supportive and not everyone likes to be dependent on welfare.
I want to
- encourage you to think in “new” structures – and dare to do so
- demonstrate practical use and implementations
- provide contact and support to start something new
- share what I used for this blog
All articles and videos should eventually become available in German and English and get translated into many other languages, for example French, Spanish, Italian, Hungarian, Hindi, and many, many other languages (anyone up for the challenge? I could need some help with translation and creating videos in languages I don’t speak…)
Please Help To Initiate The “InstantAidProject”!
To initiate a scientifc research project, the initiators need to prove that there is high interest and high demand for the subject. This means, to find adequate partners I need feedback from stroke patients. So in case you are a stroke survivor or one of your family members is, it would help me to raise interest in the “InstantAidProject” if you send me your story and how you have experienced your stroke. If we compare enough stories, we might already see a pattern which could be used to start further research.
Send Me Your Story, How You Have Experienced Your Stroke!
- Which area was affected?
- Did you like to dance or do a lot of sports (which one)?
- Did you play music instruments?
I’m looking forward to your story! (And of course I will treat your info confidentially.)
All the best,
P.S. You Can Help, Even If You Are Not (Yet) Affected By Stroke!
Tell your friends about this blog and help promote it so more people learn about this project. “Like” it on Facebook or on bookmark it on other Social Networks. Or simply forward a link to people you know who had a stroke or whole family members had one.
Thank you so much for your support!
I would be happy to hear feedback about my website and this article. Do you have any questions? How do you like the idea of the “InstantAidProject”?