Living the Full Catastrophe: A Mindfulness-Based Program to Support Recovery from Stroke

Healthcare (Basel). 2020 Nov 19;8(4):498. doi: 10.3390/healthcare8040498.


Decades of research suggest that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training supports a greater capacity to live with chronic medical conditions and contributes to lowering stress levels. This paper introduces a model for a Mindfulness-Based Recovery from Stroke (MBRfS) for promoting stroke recovery, informed by the lived experience of the author (a stroke survivor and certified MBSR instructor), the research literature regarding MBSR training, and the specific challenges of stroke recovery. Four themes emerged from the autoethnographic analysis that informed the proposed model: Readiness to accept the stroke event and the acquired brain injury, navigating uncertainties of stroke recovery with awareness and self-responsibility for outcomes, trusting the inherent wisdom of the body as a stroke recovery "teacher", and increased capacity to integrate complex emotions with self-compassion, and a sense of wholeness. A four-component MBRfS model is offered, which consists of an integration amongst a modified MBSR framework, emergent attitudinal themes, and insights from the autoethnographic vignettes. The MBRfS model offers a path for providing participants with a supportive experience within stroke recovery. Recommendations and suggestions for future studies are offered to support the development of MBRfS for stroke survivors and their caregivers, as well as contributing to healthcare providers.

Keywords: medical education; mindfulness; mindfulness-based stress reduction; mindfulness-based stroke recovery; social support for stroke survivors; stroke recovery; stroke rehabilitation.