Video, cooking and rehab

During the summer 2002, Marianne Lorraine took a close look at the many stages in meal preparation by a man suffering from the after-effects of a cerebral vascular accident. The objective was to determine whether he succeeded or failed at each action he attempted was due to his environment and, eventually, propose targeted intervention strategies. “Failure at any function, such as not finding an object, may be due to more than one cause: the subject did not visually “explore” the room enough, he simply did not recognize the object, or he was unable to see it because it was located outside his field of vision. You have to break the action down into minute details to understand all these phenomena,” notes the master’s student in the School of Rehabilitation at Université de Montréal.

The activity was filmed with a video camera in the presence of a neuropsychologist and an occupational therapist, in order to code and analyze each movement. This method can identify even the smallest element. It is worth noting that preparing a meal involves quite a number of individual tasks, all connected to specific cognitive and perceptual functions: memory, recognition of objects, orientation in space, ability to plan an action. An interview with the patient's spouse was also conducted. “Those closest to these people are our greatest experts! Their testimonies are indispensable in helping us understand what happens every day.”

According to the graduate student, people suffering cognitive deficiencies can become more autonomous if they are allowed to carry out everyday activities at home. “The idea is to adapt the environment to help them carry out certain tasks as best they can. This takes some of the load off those around them, so it’s really satisfactory for everybody,” she explains. Sometimes, it takes very little effort to make something doable: change the arrangement of furniture, measure out food in advance or use pictograms to help in locating objects. “This principle is being used more and more in homes for the elderly, but until now nobody had studied how to make concrete improvements in patients’ homes.”

Although the researcher still has plenty of data to analyze, she already has a general idea of the difficulties her subject had to contend with: “The man’s actions were very disorganized. For example, he washed the dishes systematically every time he used a utensil instead of waiting for the end of the meal. In addition, he forgot to use the soap and merely rinsed the dishes without washing them.” Insignificant details? Not if you consider that these trifles too often lead loved ones to take over doing these tasks for the patient, and thus, in spite of themselves, restrict his autonomy.

Researcher: Marianne Lorrain
Direction: Bernadette Ska,
Telephone: (514) 343-6111, extension 1070
Funding: Faculty of Graduate Studies, Université de Montréal (scholarship)


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