Blog Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging

An exciting experience

Written by Josie Wright, BA Candidate, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and participant in the 2021 Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program

As a participant in the Summer Research Program Aging & Neurological Diseases Track, I am working with Susan Stark, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, in her Participation, Environment and Performance Lab (PEPL). I am fortunate to be working on the research project Community Participation Transition after Stroke (COMPASS).

Josie Wright visits Castlewood State Park with her dog, Cooper

In the COMPASS program, an occupational therapist assesses what home modifications would be beneficial to the stroke patient. For example, a person may need to have a stair lift on their staircase, because they have difficulties climbing stairs. Throughout the study, the recovering participants respond to survey questions regarding how they are doing at home physically and emotionally. The goal is to increase the participants’ abilities so they are able to transition back into their normal environment and community.

I have had the experience of meeting two inpatients at The Rehabilitation Institute of St. Louis (TRISTL). I accompanied Emily Somerville, OTD, OTR/L, who is an occupational therapist working with the COMPASS study. I will continue to go out into the field with her to gain more knowledge as to how the study is conducted. At TRISTL, we asked the two patients whether they would be interested in being a part of the COMPASS study. It was an interesting experience to speak and interact with the stroke patients.

I also had the opportunity to meet a participant in the research program in his home environment. He is living at home and has received home modifications. Emily asked him how he felt he was managing his activities of daily living while at home and if there were any areas of concern. We observed him walk up and down his outside steps, go in and out of the bathtub, and sitting and rising from the toilet. This was a way to measure how he was progressing throughout his therapy. He was doing much better than he had been doing since the last time that she saw him. He only had difficulty going up and down the basement stairs. Emily decided what type of modification would be the best to help him safely go up and down the stairs. I thought it was great to see the ideas that she was able to come up with that will give him easier access to his downstairs area.

I am grateful that I have had the chance to see patients at TRISTL along with a patient in his home environment. I look forward to meeting additional participants and learning more about the COMPASS study and the benefits it can provide to stroke survivors.