PURPOSE: Impairment of language ability, aphasia, can cause barriers to communication and hence impact on participation in many life situations. This study aimed to describe and explore how persons with aphasia following stroke experience engaging in everyday occupations.
METHOD: Six persons from Southwest Finland who had aphasia due to stroke one to four years previously were interviewed for the study. A modified form of the empirical phenomenological psychological method was used for data analysis.
RESULTS: Three main characteristics of experiences of engaging in everyday occupations were identified: (1) encountering new experiences in everyday occupations, (2) striving to handle everyday occupations and (3) going ahead with life. The participants had experienced an altering life-world. Engagement in occupations affected their perceptions of competence and identity, and experiences of belonging and well-being. It was also through engagement in everyday occupations that they had discovered and learnt to handle changes in their everyday life.
CONCLUSION: Aphasia can have a long-term impact on engagement in everyday occupations and participation in society, but conversely, engagement in meaningful occupations can also contribute to adaptation to disability and life changes.
IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION: Aphasia can have a long-term impact on engagement in everyday occupations and participation in society. Health care professionals need to determine what clients with aphasia think about their occupations and life situations in spite of difficulties they may have verbalizing their thoughts. Experiences of engaging in meaningful occupations can help clients with aphasia in reconstructing their life stories, thereby contributing to adaptation to disability and life changes.
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