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Stroke recovery using SmartHealth online appointments

Jaki and Ra at Hamilton Lake

Jaki and Ra at Hamilton Lake

Ra Koti had a stroke in February 2017 and since then he and his wife Jaki have been working hard to help his recovery. Their weeks are filled with walks around Hamilton Lake, swimming, and many appointments with specialist medical services.

One of the challenges Ra now faces is aphasia, which makes it difficult for him to express or articulate himself in speech. Speech and language therapy twice a week is helping his recovery, but the travel and organisation required to get to ongoing appointments at Waikato Hospital takes its toll.

“Since the stroke, Ra tires easily,” says Jaki. “Getting up early, getting ready, finding a park and getting in to the hospital for appointments is really stressful.”

Then Ra was asked whether he wanted to try having consultations from home on his laptop using SmartHealth, Waikato DHB’s online health service. As the first speech and language therapy patient to use SmartHealth, he and Jaki were keen to give it a try.

“We alternate face-to-face appointments with online video consults and it’s so nice and easy to use,” says Jaki. “Ra has had seven consults from our home computer so far and it’s great.”

Ra agrees. He says using the laptop from home is a good experience. “It has helped my recovery.”

With a background in IT, Ra enjoys the familiarity of using technology, as well as the independence that comes from having appointments at home. On the day of a video consultation he can easily get up, get himself organised, turn on the computer and be ready for his appointment, without the stress of leaving the house.

The speech and language therapy team also use SmartHealth to give Ra online checklists to work through. “Homework from the girls,” Jaki calls it. The lists help keep Ra motivated between appointments and give him something to achieve independently.

Ra and Jaki are so happy with how SmartHealth is helping them, they want to tell others about it. “There are some people from our ‘slow talkers’ stroke recovery coffee group who travel from Te Kuiti and Otorohanga,” says Jaki. “It could really help them.”

Together they’re hoping to use Ra’s IT skills to help get others on board. “I think the new technology can be daunting for some people, they just need the confidence to try it.

“Ra wants to help set others up with SmartHealth. Using technology again helps him feel like normal and he’s helping others too.”

SmartHealth update. 

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