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Five Easy Ways for Stroke Survivors to Regain Independence

A stroke survivor regains independence at the dinner table

During the process of rehabilitation stroke survivors often feel completely dependent upon their helpers. Likewise, for caregivers, it’s difficult to watch loved ones struggle with everyday tasks. This dependency can be frustrating for both parties, but everything a survivor can do acts as an exercise towards rehabilitation.

Here are some suggestions for ways strong survivors can take back independence in their everyday lives, ease the burden upon caregivers, and make significant strides towards rehabilitation.

1. Manageable Meal Time 

Meal time can be an excellent place to start trying options for independence. Specialized utensils are made to have easy gripping solutions with larger handles or Velcro straps. Plates and bowls that suction to the table stay put while providing practice for fine motor skills. (Read a separate article on kitchen aids for stroke survivors here.)

2. Balanced Bathroom

For patients receiving sponge baths, the thought of a shower is an oasis on the horizon of recovery. Having your bathroom remodeled by contractors that specialize in universal design is the best option for long-term recovery, but there are also less expensive adaptations that will provide accessibility as well. Install a grab bar and seat in the shower, or purchase transferring chairs that fit over a traditional tub.

3. Better with A Brace

Joint contraction, muscle spasms and loss of limb control can be some of the results of a stroke. Hand splints have traditionally been used to ease some of these symptoms, but there are also braces that aid with better control of wrists, hands, legs and feet. There are also options for more robotic assistors that detect slight muscle movement and aid in function.

4. Write Well

Creating legible writing with an ordinary pen or pencil can be a very difficult talk after a stroke. There are specialized pens that assist with keeping the hand and pen steady, and those who require hardly any pressure at all to produce clear writing.

5. Dress to Impress

Have a grab stick available to get hard to reach clothes out of the closet. Button aids and zipper pulls can make familiar clothes easier to put on. Replacing traditional laces with elastic shoestrings makes every shoe adaptable.

By: Buckley Ann Kuhn Fricker J.D., GCM, President of Buckley’s For Seniors, LLC

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"Everything a survivor can do acts as an exercise towards rehabilitation."

Ordering Aids

There are seemingly endless versions of adaptive tools. Finding the most functional option for you is often a process of trial and error. If possible, order multiple version of a similar product and find what works best, then return the rest. Everyone’s mobility is different, so if a particular product doesn’t work out, just keep trying new variations or ask a physical therapist for advice.

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