Abstract

Objective. Treatment of stroke, as described in the occupational therapy literature, focuses primarily on the person’s physical problems, and less on the way in which the family and environment influence adaptation. This article examines family and environmental influences on adaptation to stroke.

Method. The content of five interviews conducted over 2 years with a woman who experienced a stroke and her husband was analyzed with ethnographic research methods.

Results. The analysis revealed that a stroke cannot be understood as an individual phenomenon, because the life course of both this woman and her husband were profoundly affected by it. The man’s roles as family member, caregiver, home maintainer, and hobbyist required change after his wife’s stroke. The woman’s experience of her changed body, dependence, and altered homemaking role were influenced not only by her husband’s attitudes but also by societal values.

Conclusion. The findings suggest that clinicians and researchers must pay greater attention to those living with the person who experienced a stroke and to the ways in which the person’s social, cultural, and economic environments influence adaptation to disability.

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