Fight like a ferret: a novel approach of using art therapy to reduce anxiety in stroke patients undergoing hospital rehabilitation

Khalid Ali, Anthony Gammidge, Diane Waller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rationale The holistic aspect of stroke rehabilitation toinclude psychological well-being is currently neglected,with more emphasis placed on physical recovery despiteanxiety and depression being common poststroke. Fromthe limited amount of current literature, it seems thatcreative strategies such as art therapy (AT) can bebeneficial in reducing isolation and anxiety among strokepatients.Methods Stroke patients (able to consent) in ahospital rehabilitation unit were invited to participate intwo weekly AT sessions for 6 weeks, facilitated by an artpsychotherapist using paints, crayons, clay, a camera andan iPad. Hospital anxiety and depression scales (HAD)and therapy outcome measures (TOM) were measured atthe beginning and end of the study.Results Six male patients were recruited, average age69 years (38-85). Group discussions allowed patients toexpress openly feelings of frustration as well as hope forphysical and emotional recovery: ‘fight like a ferret', anexpression used by a group member. The groupproduced several art objects and photographic imagesthat were collated using stop-frame animation toproduce a 10 min film. Median HAD score for the groupwas eight points upon entering the study and six pointson finishing the study.Key conclusions There is little attention to theemotional needs of stroke patients in rehabilitation.Properly designed research studies exploring the role ofAT in addressing anxiety and depression poststroke areneeded. Our study showed that AT was a feasibleintervention that helped patients explore the sequel ofstroke in an open supportive environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-60
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Humanities
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2014


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