The essence of stroke rehabilitation experience across two settings
The present research used van Manen's application of hermeneutic phenomenology as
philosophy and method to explore stroke rehabilitation experience across two different
settings, i.e. (i) a conventional setting (National Health Service or NHS stroke unit) and (ii)
an unconventional setting (Conductive Education or CE). Interviews, observations and
reflective diaries were used to collect data on 24 volunteering stroke patients' experiences.
High levels of dis empowerment and negative images of self as well as the nature of
motivation were indicated to be thematic of stroke rehabilitation experience in the stroke unit.
In the CE setting stroke rehabilitation experience was characterised by increased selfconfidence,
unconditional positive regard from conductors, challenging activities and body-half
A juxtaposition of stroke rehabilitation experience in the CE setting with stroke
rehabilitation experience in the NHS stroke unit brought to light an important difference
between the physical body-split caused by stroke, and a much wider and deeper disintegration
of being. The juxtaposition further indicated that (i) the approach used in the NHS stroke unit
is biomedical in spite of the presence of a multi-disciplinary team, and (ii) that the one
adopted by CE is a person-centred approach characterised by holistic principles, with an
overall focus on mobility. A reflective evaluation of this hermeneutic phenomenological
study ensues, including a discussion on the difference between person-centredness and
holism. The better understanding gained regarding stroke rehabilitation experience across the
two settings was then used to make recommendations regarding what could constitute a
holistic approach to stroke rehabilitation.
Finally, the researcher's experience of 'being-immersed' in others' lived experiences was
discussed in order to illustrate the holistic effect the research process had on the researcher's
well-being, and the development of a tool which addresses researcher emotions holistically is