SINGAPORE - Stroke patients in need of rehabilitation should find it easier to get treatment after a new Stroke Wellness Centre opens at Jurong Point Shopping Centre on Tuesday (May 28).
The centre is the second in Singapore and almost twice the size of the first at the Enabling Village in Lengkok Bahru, boosting patient capacity from the current 400 to 1,000.
Run by Stroke Support Station (S3), a voluntary initiative that supports stroke survivors and their caregivers, the centre will offer two new programmes that use technology to rehabilitate patients.
From July, patients with mobility difficulties will get to wear a robotic exoskeleton while learning weight-bearing, weight-shifting, stepping and balancing skills.
It is a collaboration with Alexandra Hospital under the Improving Mobility via Exoskeletons programme.
S3 is also working with the Institute of Systems Science at the National University of Singapore to develop and test an automated hand rehabilitation system.
The system uses 3D cameras to capture patients' hand motions as they play games to practise movements such as grasping, pinching and reaching forward.
S3's programmes are supported by medical professionals and therapists from the National University Health System and other hospitals.
Since it launched in 2015, S3 has helped close to 400 stroke survivors and nearly 430 caregivers.
The new centre should cut waiting times, which are often longer than a month, for its programmes.
A spokesman for S3 said it will cost $4 million a year to run the two centres, with funding coming from a combination of a government grant, donors and programme registration fees.
Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and the largest cause of long-term physical disability in Singapore.
There are approximately 7,500 new stroke cases a year and 80 per cent of stroke survivors are left with some disability.
S3 also released the results of its Re-learn and Enjoy Active Living programme, collected from 2016 until last year.
The group-based wellness and rehabilitation programme includes activities such as horticulture and modified table tennis.
It tracked 71 participants and found that there was significant improvement in their balance, hand function and ability to complete daily living tasks, such as eating and showering.
The three-hour programme was designed by medical professionals and is run by trained volunteers, who are supervised by a clinician.
Participant Stephanie Lim, 43, who suffered a stroke six years ago when she was seven months’ pregnant, said the sessions have helped her to build confidence and independence.
“A simple thing like washing the mug is a challenge for us (stroke survivors),” said Ms Lim, whose daughter was delivered premature and is now six.
“I’m very happy to be able to finally succeed, it gives me the confidence that I can do it if I persist.”
S3 plans to open two more Stroke Wellness Centres by 2022, with the third one probably located in the east, said its chief executive, Dr Wong Chiang Yin.
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee attended the centre's launch.
Correction note: This article has been edited for clarity.