Tuesday, August 7th, 2018
Last modified on October 6th, 2022
Of all the areas affected by the aftermath of a stroke, damage to the shoulder can be particularly complex. Without quality movement at the shoulder, a stroke survivor is not able engage the arm and hand in functional tasks. As with all joints in the body, the shoulder requires cooperation and coordination to successfully achieve a task. Fortunately, a range of rehabilitation exercises and support devices exist to promote shoulder health.
Common shoulder complications during early stroke rehabilitation can consist of shoulder spasticity—or the involuntary tension in muscles—flaccidity, pain, hypertonicity, hypotonicity, capsular tightness or soft tissue shortening. These symptoms tend to change as the typical stroke rehabilitation stages progress. By addressing these symptoms both individually and in relation to one another, an effective rehab program can be developed.
Begin your research by exploring the root causes of shoulder complications after a stroke. By understanding the common movements and biomechanics of a healthy shoulder, it’s more clear why and how a disruption occurred.
One commonly recognized stroke complication is the weakness of one half of the body, known as hemiparesis. When blood to one area of the brain is cut off during a stroke, neurological connections in the opposite area of the body can disengage and weaken. This can cause a range of issues in the affected shoulder—ones that can, if not treated, lead to a series of related problems like subluxation, frozen shoulder or impingement. In order to remedy the negative impact of stroke on shoulder function, purchasing a rehab device may be considered.
Navigating the stroke rehabilitation device market can be overwhelming, so it’s best to consider these five questions before making an investment.
Always begin by considering your own, unique personal needs and challenges first. Your doctor or therapist can guide you in making the best purchases after getting to know your particular case. This discourages unnecessary purchases and makes the process less overwhelming overall.
Quality rehabilitation products are an investment, so it’s important to consider affordability within your own budget. Weigh the daily value of each product before choosing if it’s the right tool for you.
Be sure to read through other patients’ experiences before purchasing a rehabilitation product. The community understands the true daily value a product provides, beyond what the brand is claiming.
With the many changes after a stroke, it’s important to consider your own comfort and pain levels. If a rehabilitation product causes more discomfort than it’s worth, necessary repetitive motions will be more difficult, discouraging daily exercise. It is also important that, in the event that your chosen device doesn’t support your rehabilitation goals, there exists a return policy. Some companies, like Saebo, offer a risk-free trial period on their products during which a survivor can test a product and return it within the timeframe for a full refund if it is unsatisfactory.
Some products require research or guidance from a medical professional. Some products cannot be used by a survivor without the expert assistance of a therapist. Be sure to thoroughly do your research and check in with your medical team to ensure your chosen item can be independently used, safely and to its full extent. Furthermore, if it can be used at home on your own, does it facilitate progress?
A huge step forward in rehabilitation, there are now a variety of arm support devices to comfortably assist an individual’s transition from supported to independent movement. Many therapists may recommend range-of-motion therapy that specializes in helping affected joints regain painless and supported motion in each direction. When it comes to the dynamic and complex shoulder joint, external support systems may encourage safe and repetitive motion that can improve functional movement and ward off afflictions such as frozen shoulder, subluxation, and other related issues.
The SaeboMAS is a zero-gravity arm support device ideal for individuals with moderate-to-severe shoulder weakness. The SaeboMAS unloads the arm, counteracting the effects of gravity, and completely reinforces the affected arm as the impacted shoulder regains strength. In the case of restricted arm and shoulder movement, the SaeboMAS allows an individual to perform otherwise impossible exercises and tasks, strengthening the neurological connections related to each action.
Another similar solution, the SaeboMAS mini, is a smaller and more mobile version of the SaeboMAS. It is perfect for transitioning from home therapy to the home environment. Like the full-sized SaeboMAS, this smaller, lighter version provides unique, zero-gravity support when building a routine of repetitive daily exercises to re-strengthen the affected region. Easy to transport, the SaeboMas Mini can be taken outside the home, to and from physical therapy, as well to see loved ones. The supportive arm of the product assists with common tasks such as eating, drinking, grooming, or a multitude of other functional tasks a stroke survivor may perform that involve shoulder motion.
Supportive devices allow a survivor to repeat stroke rehabilitation exercises with precision and ease. The SaeboGlide acts as a comfortable guide for completing these exercises in both against gravity and gravity-eliminated positions without over-exerting the sensitive areas. Users can even attach a hand strap to the gliding portion of the SaeboGlide if they have limited ability to grip.
The SaeboGlide is ideal for those easing from the early stages of rehab into a long-term plan, as the exercises can be altered to each person’s comfort. This device is an option for survivors in any stage of rehabilitation. Once you’ve mastered these actions with the help of the SaeboGlide, it’s easier to transition to real-life activities that involve motions across the body.
The SaeboGlide and its very descriptive instruction manual—filled with over 50 pictures of exercises—provide straightforward and easy-to-learn solutions to common challenges of stroke rehabilitation. It simply and effectively concentrates on motions otherwise difficult to pinpoint. Most importantly, those just starting therapy can begin using the SaeboGlide immediately, as the device can be used in all positions, including sitting or lying down. The added hand strap helps those struggling with grip in the early stages.
Learn more about support tools from Saebo patients and Saebo-trained occupational therapists on our testimonials page.
Regaining arm and shoulder strength after stroke is important for survivors seeking to regain independence. Active and passive exercises are a key component of strength building after stroke. Shoulder recovery exercises can be beneficial at various levels of ability. Passive range-of-motion exercises are particularly helpful for survivors focused on retaining and improving range of motion in affected limbs. As always, a survivor should seek the advice of a physician or therapist before beginning a rehab exercise program.
When a stroke interrupts the area of the brain that affects the shoulder, one comes to understand how crucial this joint is to our daily lives. This dynamic area of the body is relevant to movement of the arm, guidance of the hand and even a strong back and neck. Most importantly, remember that each survivor responds differently to changes in their body. Use the guide above to choose the support devices right for your particular symptoms.
All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by the Saebo website is solely at your own risk.