Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore and gain an understanding of how habits are experienced when performing daily occupations after a stroke. In-depth interviews were conducted with 7 participants and a constant comparative method was used for data analysis. Four men and three women with stroke between the ages of 42 and 82 years participated in the study. The interviews were conducted 1.5 to 7 months after the participants had been discharged from hospital to their home. The findings show that the participants experienced frustration when performing daily occupations because changes in their performance meant that former habits could not automatically be reestablished; daily occupations had to be re-organized and planned with greater deliberation than had been required prior to the stroke. In reestablishing their daily occupations, the participants experienced an ongoing conflict about whether or not to develop new habits. Although adaptation and change would be beneficial in the short-term, both also represented giving up possible improvements, and participants seemed to consider that their eventual recovery and independence would be compromised if they allowed themselves to alter their habits. This dilemma led to a sensation of waiting: waiting to get better, waiting for another solution and waiting for the treatment to make an impact. As a result, few new habits were established in daily occupations. The findings suggest that occupational therapists need to be aware of the dilemma clients may perceive regarding decisions about whether or not to adapt and develop new habits during poststroke recovery.

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