Stroke patients in need of rehabilitation should now find it easier to get treatment, following the opening of a Stroke Wellness Centre at Jurong Point Shopping Centre yesterday.
The new centre is the second here and almost twice the size of the first at the Enabling Village in Lengkok Bahru, boosting islandwide capacity from 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, or iMOVE, programme.
S3 is also working with the National University of Singapore's Institute of Systems Science to develop an automated hand rehabilitation system. It uses 3D cameras to capture patients' hand motions as they practise tasks such as grasping, pinching and reaching.
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 help to cut programme waiting times, which are now often longer than a month.
A spokesman for S3 said it will cost $4 million a year to run the two centres, with funding from a government grant, donations and programme registration fees.
Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability and long-term physical disability here. There are approximately 7,500 new stroke cases a year and 80 per cent of survivors are left with some disability.
S3 also released the results of its Re-learn and Enjoy Active Living (Real) programme from 2016 to last year.
Designed by medical professionals, the volunteer-run wellness and rehabilitation programme includes activities such as horticulture and modified table tennis.
S3 tracked 71 participants and found significant improvements in their balance, hand functions and ability to complete daily tasks such as eating and showering.
Participant Stephanie Lim, 43, who had a stroke while she was pregnant six years ago, said Real helped to build her confidence and independence. Ms Lim, whose daughter is now six, said simple tasks like washing mugs were challenging for survivors. "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.
Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee attended yesterday's launch event.
Correction note: This article has been edited for clarity.