Taking Back Your Independence After Stroke

Henry Hoffman
Wednesday, February 28th, 2018


Being self-reliant feels great, but for stroke survivors regaining independence is often challenging and progress sometimes seems slow. Emotional support, therapy, gait training, and stroke rehabilitation equipment can help stroke survivors find a path to independence.

Not only do stroke survivors have to deal with the mental and emotional toll of a stroke, but they must also face physical complications that may require constant support. Often, survivors feel like they are a burden to those caring for them which puts them at a higher risk of depression. However, this feeling doesn’t have to persist.

Emotional Support Helps Stroke Survivors Cope

Although there are many physical tools that we are excited to share with you, perhaps the most important tool is emotional support. This can come in a wide range of sources, whether it be a spouse, family member, close friend, or doctor—it is crucial to have someone in your corner who cares.

Unfortunately, one of the main problems that stroke survivors face is a desire to isolate themselves from others because of their condition. Often survivors feel like a burden to those around them, and become depressed. These feelings may lead to a prolonged or more difficult of a recovery.

A support group can aid tremendously in building self-esteem and working through the obstacles of recovery. Support groups provide a community of people who have dealt with or are dealing with similar issues.  A bond forms that promotes positive reinforcement in all aspects of recovery. The social interaction can eradicate feelings of doubt, depression, and isolation. Participation in support groups serves as an inspiration for trying new things or facing issues head-on with confidence. It’s important to note that if one is homebound, online support groups can offer assistance through discussion boards and video chats.

Benefits That Support Groups Provide To Stroke Survivors:

  1. Reducing stress, grief, depression and anxiety
  2. Alleviating isolation and loneliness
  3. Improving adaptability to conditions and circumstances
  4. Offering a compassionate space for open discussions
  5. Gaining recommendations for doctor, treatments, and facilities
  6. Creating long-lasting friendships

No matter how difficult things may be, there are many options to choose from.

Physical Support To Help Stroke Survivors Regain Independence

 

Once emotional support and therapy are accounted for, it becomes easier to focus on the tools that can improve independence. There are a multitude of at-home assistive stroke devices & rehabilitation equipment that can help navigate daily life, which we will highlight below.

Stroke Rehabilitation Equipment & Devices

While the issues associated with strokes are complex, there are many tools available on the market that can make recovery much easier.

Stroke Rehabilitation Gloves: If neurological damage has affected hand movement, a stroke rehabilitation glove may be a good solution. In most cases, a survivor has a difficult time opening their hand to prepare to grasp an object or to release it. This device counters this difficulty with tension-expanding properties that extend the fingers away from the palm upon grasping or releasing. The SaeboGlove utilizes this assistive mechanism to enable stroke survivors to mimic a natural range of motion to allow them to incorporate their hand functionally.  Using a tool like the SaeboGlove ultimately helps users improve their hand function because it allows for repetitive and continuous practice. This then opens the door for increased cortical plasticity and motor relearning.

Out of Shoe Ankle Foot Orthoses: Foot Drop recovery is a common problem that many stroke survivors face—a condition where the muscles of the foot are affected by weakness or paralysis. This condition can result in the forefoot repeatedly dropping, which can cause damage over time. Foot drop braces are a practical solution to a complex issue, aid in gait training, and help survivors feel more independent. The SaeboStep is an incredible example of this technology. This low cost, out of shoe ankle foot orthosis offers a lightweight, comfortable, and non-invasive alternative to cumbersome splints that go inside the shoe. The brace can be worn with a variety of men’s and women’s shoes, too, so it’s easy to incorporate into everyday life and is discreet.

 

Mobile Arm Support: Depending on the severity and side of the brain that was affected by a stroke, a survivor may have trouble moving one or both of their arms. In severe cases, the use of an arm could be lost entirely. Luckily there are a variety of supportive and assistive devices aimed at arm mobility and rehabilitation. The SaeboMAS and the SaeboMAS Mini are leaders in unweighting technology, giving maximum shoulder and arm support to exercise drills and everyday functions. With a zero-gravity approach, a survivor is better able to increase their motor skills by practicing consistent movement techniques. Mobile arm support devices are an excellent way to give stroke survivors an extra latitude of freedom as they go through their days.

Dining Aids for Stroke Survivors

Eating out or even at home can create a variety of challenges for stroke survivors. The tools

listed below can make the familiar act of eating feel much easier.

 

ADL Universal Cuff: Perfect for gripping all kinds of objects and utensils, this gadget is the best option for stroke survivors who have difficulty with common side-effects of limited dexterity. Incorporating your limbs into functional tasks is essential for the regeneration process, and this tool allows one to incorporate their affected hand into a variety of self care tasks.

Rocking T Knife: Cutting produce or meats has never been easier than with the Rocking T Knife. Its unique design allows for an individual to slice foods with easily-applied pressure by gently rocking the blade back and forth. The motion is much easier and safer than using a household knife.

Freedom No Slip Scoop Plate: With the ability to prevent spills and difficulties with utensils, this plate can be suctioned to any hard surface. Its design also allows for it to be placed at an angle, which creates a better eating experience for those with limited hand function. Not being able to feed oneself can be terribly frustrating, but tools such as this allow for greater independence.

Bathing And Grooming Aids for Stroke Survivors

As with eating, bathing, grooming, and a sense of privacy in the bathroom all aid tremendously in giving stroke survivors a feeling of independence. These are just a few aids that can increase safety and independence in the bathroom:

  • Shower Chair: Stroke survivors can stay safe with this aluminum shower chair. It is equipped with armrests, a seat back, and its suction-cup feet prevent the user from slipping around.
  • Grab Bars: Ideal for assistance getting in and out of the tub or shower, grab bars provide tremendous support for those with limited mobility or balance. It can be mounted in a variety of ways and locations, including next to the toilet, and some offer a design that are water resistant for secure gripping.
  • Long Handled Bath Sponges: For those with restricted movement or severe joint pain, a long handled bath sponge allows one to scrub hard-to-reach areas of the body without needing help from a caregiver or having to bend over and compromise balance.

Dressing Aids for Stroke Survivors

The simple tools below make getting dressed alone far easier for stroke survivors, and give them the sense of independence and achievement they need on their road to recovery.

Button & Zipper Pull Aid: Easily slip buttons into their slots with the Button & Zipper Pull Aid. Formed wires make it easy to use, and the brass hook at the opposite end makes zipping simple.

Dressing Stick & Shoe Horns: With an eye towards making getting dressed slightly easier these devices allow for putting on shoes and taking off clothing with ease. The angled hooks on a dressing stick can hold and pull off articles with less mobility than might otherwise be required. Shoe horns are another easy item to add to a morning routine since they remove many of the challenges associated with bending over and getting shoes on with both hands.

Source: (Colonial Medical)

 

 

 

One-handed Belt: A practical and stylish choice for men or women, this one-handed belt attaches to a front belt loop, swings around, and easily latches itself to the initial setup.

Bedroom Safety And Comfort Aids for Stroke Survivors

 

Independence also means reaching a degree of comfort when alone at home. The tools listed below are great items for bedrooms and make life a little bit easier and safer for stroke survivors.

 

Positioning Wedges: With the ability to place in multiple positions, these wedges provide great support while lying in bed or sitting down.

Bed Rail: Getting out of bed is already hard enough, but with the added challenges of decreased motor function following a stroke, additional help may be necessary. A fixed or collapsible bed rail is one solution, offering additional assistance when getting up and out of bed, as well and providing greater protection against possible slips or falls.

Open Entry To Bedroom & Closets: Modifying your bedroom to make access to the room or your closet removes one more challenge for someone recovering after a stroke. Modifying doors to push open, or removing the door entirely eliminates the potentially challenging motion of reaching for and turning a door knob.

Source: (Cain’s Mobility)

Life Alert Systems: As much as we want to focus our recovery options on comfort and personal growth for survivors, having a back-up plan is always an excellent idea. Although preventing a second stroke should be a focus during recovery, it’s important to be realistic about how time sensitive getting help can be. Alert systems are essential in tackling complications from a stroke, fall, or other accident. One huge benefits for those seeking independence is that you can stay home longer rather living in a facility.

Getting Back Behind The Wheel

Once emotional and physical independence has been regained or stabilized stroke survivors may have an eye for an even higher level of independence. After suffering from a stroke, a survivor will most likely not be able to drive a car or transport themselves right away.

Often times, the effects of a stroke are long-lasting or may not entirely surface until a later period. This state of uncertainty means that a survivor could potentially be unaware of their true physical and mental status, which places them in greater harm when operating a vehicle. On the bright side, many survivors can eventually redevelop their driving skills, but it is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before deciding to turn on the ignition. In many cases, a DMV may even require a separate evaluation or a report from a physician to reinstate driving privileges. Please be sure to check for applicable guidelines in your state.

Helping Stroke Survivors Regain Their Independence

As challenging as it may be, becoming independent after suffering from a stroke is possible. With the trilogy of support—personal, emotional, and physical—the walls of adversity will begin to crumble, revealing an outlook that can be genuinely fulfilling. Above all else, remember to always be patient with yourself or a loved one’s progress. Healing the mind and body takes a considerable amount of time, but good things will surely come for those who remain steadfast.

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.



Recovering from a stroke is a long and difficult process, but for many stroke survivors music therapy could be a so... https://t.co/j9IcrEDxV9