Friday, December 14th, 2018
In the months directly following a stroke, there are a multitude of important decisions a stroke survivor and their family must make. Although recovery is a lifelong process, diligent at-home care and utilizing the best equipment for stroke rehabilitation will make the transition from hospital to home more streamlined and effective. Today’s developing market of stroke recovery devices offers countless options to help you supplement and continue the care provided by your hospital and rehabilitation facility, right at home. To help you identify the best devices to support in-home rehabilitation for yourself or the stroke survivor in your life, we’ll consider the five following factors: affordability, ease of use, ability to promote neuroplasticity, evidence-based results, and ongoing product support. Taking all five of these aspects into account will help you create a home environment of supportive, fact-based care for a smooth recovery.
When any specialized item carries a high price tag, it’s critical to weigh its proven benefits against its cost before making the investment. Of course, “affordable” means something different to each family, and some insurance plans will step in to cover a percentage of a tool’s cost, so remember to ask if it can be covered by insurance.
Most importantly, you’ll want to consider how each device’s technology compares to the more expensive devices used by health care facilities. Although some inpatient rehabilitation stroke recovery devices are out of range for most families, there are many cost-conscious, appropriate and highly effective alternatives available, which can support the same exercises.
The SaeboMAS Mini was designed to treat loss of shoulder strength and agility. A compact alternative to the larger SaeboMAS, it is a cost-effective rehabilitation tool for arm and shoulder weakness and deconditioning. Both mobile arm supports are specifically designed to facilitate and challenge the weakened shoulder during functional tasks and exercise drills. The SaeboMAS Mini arm support system is not only lightweight and adjustable for all spaces, but also affordable. The SaeboMAS Mini also provides the same zero-gravity support for reaching, moving objects, and therapeutic repetitive arm movements as the much larger rehab-based SaeboMAS, but in a size that is ideal for home use.
The SaeboFlex and SaeboReach are stroke rehabilitation devices that are not only affordable and evidence-based, but are often covered by insurance. The SaeboFlex and SaeboReach enable individuals suffering from neurological impairments (like stroke) to incorporate their arm and/or hand functionally at home and in therapy. These unique orthoses position the wrist and fingers into extension in preparation for object manipulation. The user is able to voluntarily grasp objects and, once the fingers relax, the extension spring system assists to reopen the hand and release the object, and possibly improving hand function.
Similarly, the cutting-edge SaeboGlove supports a survivor’s affected hand while they move throughout their day. The SaeboGlove assists the patient with normal hand activities like grasping household items and rebuilds muscular strength in the process. The proprietary tension system extends the fingers and thumb after grasping. The SaeboGlove is based on the latest advances in neurorehabilitation research about the brain’s ability to “reprogram” itself through mass practice, task-oriented arm training.
Once you’ve decided which tools fit comfortably within your budget, a tool’s usability will indicate how beneficial and cost-effective it will be. Due to the brain’s neuroplasticity following a stroke, consistency in your rehab protocol during this time is essential to the redevelopment of lost function. Therefore, a stroke recovery tool should encourage the repetitive exercise necessary for consistency by being as simple to use as possible.
A tool’s level of usability can often be gleaned by whether or not it requires the assistance of an in-home caregiver or physical therapist. It isn’t always possible to have a guide in the home, but this shouldn’t mean that care has to pause in the interim. The most accessible stroke therapy tools are usable after initial instruction and with the guidance of a family member. These types of devices are far more likely to encourage the regular daily regimen necessary for ongoing improvement.
The portable and straightforward SaeboStim Micro is a safe way to continue electrical stimulation therapy after leaving a hospital setting. The SaeboStim Micro provides low-level sensory electrical stimulation to the arm and hand using a specialized electromesh garment. The SaeboStim Micro has been shown to decrease spasticity, improve motor function, increase sensation, improve inattention and neglect, and decrease swelling and pain.
The brain’s ability to reorganize itself and regain lost connections is known as neuroplasticity. The most effective home devices for stroke patients are those proven to capitalize on this.
If a stroke survivor consistently performs tasks that become more challenging over time, the parts of the brain that communicate with the parts of the body engaged by the task are exercised. Stroke survivors should work with their therapists to build a routine of these daily tasks and follow it diligently, in order to rebuild any lost synaptic connections. Because uniformity is key to a faster recovery, all equipment for stroke rehabilitation should allow the user to repeat tasks consistently from day to day with continuous support.
In the case of mirror boxes, neuroplasticity plays a large role in their success. Easy to construct at home or purchase at an affordable price, research has found that mirror boxes improve the symptoms of hemiparesis after a stroke. The patient places his or her unaffected limb next to a mirror and repeats a simple movement while watching the reflection. Simply by viewing the movement of what appears to be the damaged limb, healing begins in the brain, activating regrowth. Though this kind of exercise appears unassuming, new neuropathways come from subtle yet repetitive exercises like these. Even a minor amount of this kind of training, repeated over a steady period of time, evinces clear results.
When it comes to purchasing an at-home medical device, you’ll want to look beyond the product’s basic marketing claims and verify the existence of research to support its efficacy. Only evidence-based stroke rehab devices are worth investing time and money in.
The status of “evidence-based” can only be earned through a strict, methodical system of approval that rehabilitation medical professionals must follow before approving a device. The Sackett Scale, developed from D.L. Sackett’s work in Evidence-Based Practice, uses five levels to categorize the legitimacy of a study or claim, based on how the information was collected and analyzed. The levels range from the bottom, or most basic level of research, with no controlled experiments, up to randomized controlled trials with clear results at the top. This scale prevents untested medical opinions from undermining real, thorough research.
The stroke rehabilitation process is complex and highly sensitive, so stroke recovery tools should be able to withstand an aggressive vetting process. Investing money and energy into devices without a foundation of systematic research could derail a survivor’s rehabilitation progress.
Striking a balance between affordability and research-backed quality in a stroke rehab device can be difficult when the best available product often skews toward being more expensive. You want to be sure that with the price there is clear and constant customer support, especially while you’re learning how to use it.
Therefore, be sure to discuss the return or exchange policy with the company before making a purchase. Even the most cutting-edge technology might not turn out to be a good fit for you or your loved one, and an investment should be protected in case of this possibility. Many brands offer a trial period to allow the survivor time to ensure the product is a good match.
Saebo maintains an open line of communication during and after the purchasing process, including access to specialists and a wealth of research. Saebo also encourages communication by teleconference or online chat, and patients can even send videos to ask more specific questions.
Choosing the best stroke rehabilitation equipment for your particular needs should happen with expert guidance and customer service, affordable prices, and the support of the medical community. Here at Saebo, we are committed to stroke support and recovery for all survivors and their families. Saebo offers a wide range of products that combine cutting-edge technology with evidence-based rehabilitation techniques. Our offerings and network of Saebo-trained therapists can help you or a loved one to obtain all the necessary tools to maximize stroke recovery.
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.