According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the leading cause of disability in the United States. For patients recovering from a stroke, paralysis or loss of muscle movement on one side of the body can make daily chores and tasks more difficult to complete.

Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have received more than $2.7 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to evaluate a new intervention method that focuses on improving performance of everyday activities.

Timothy Wolf, associate professor and chair of occupational therapy in the MU School of Health Professions, has been researching neurological injury rehabilitation for more than a decade and is evaluating a new intervention method that focuses on improving performance of everyday activities.

“Stroke is a very complex neurological injury that can cause many impairments including muscle weakness and cognitive problems,” Wolf said. “Rather than addressing those issues individually, our new intervention model has a holistic approach that focuses on helping individuals get back to the activities they enjoyed before the stroke.”

The NIH grant will allow Wolf and a team of occupational therapists to comprehensively assess the strengths and limitations of patients recovering from stroke. By asking patients about their recovery goals and the types of activities they wish to reengage in, therapists can create tailored strategies and suggest techniques to improve their ability to complete daily tasks.

“Some patients may really enjoy cooking dinner with friends and family but experience weakness in one arm after suffering a stroke,” Wolf said. “By teaching them strategies, we can help the individual get back to the activities and experiences that enhance their quality of life.”

Funding for these projects was provided by the National Institutes of Health through the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research in the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Story originally published by the MU News Bureau.