Recovery After Stroke: Managing Life at Home (Final)

Making the Bedroom Safe and Comfortable
Your bedroom is a place where you should feel safe and comfortable and have a sense of privacy.
To make it safer:

  1. Make sure that help is easily and quickly within reach via telephone.
  2. Have a light switch near your bed.
  3. Move and reorganise clothes and personal items to make them easier to access. This may involve putting the clothes you wear most often in a place where you can easily reach them, lowering closet rods or shelves and replacing drawer handles with ones that you can easily open.
  4. Use a nightlight and clear a path for easy access to the toilet at night.
  5. To avoid accidents at night, keep a commode chair near the bed.
  6. Since some accidents are unavoidable, consider placing disposable “blue pads” underneath your sheets. With cloth on one side and waterproof material on the other, blue pads can prevent bed staining. Some blue pads are disposable and others are washable and reusable.

Getting Dressed

  1. To make dressing yourself easier:
  2. Avoid tight-fitting sleeves, armholes, pant legs and waistlines.
  3. Select clothes with fasteners in the front.
  4. Replace buttons, zippers and laces with Velcro fasteners.
  5. Speak with other stroke survivors for ideas and resources.

Try out dressing aids (things that make dressing easier) and adaptable clothing. You can find them on Internet sites and at health supply stores.
Check out the following websites
for adaptable clothing:
http://www.makoa.org/clothing.
htm
http://www.professionalfit.com/

Taking Care in the Kitchen

  1. To get back into your own kitchen, you may need to adjust to a small space where things can be hard to reach.And if you have less sensitivity in your hands and arms, you must learn how to manage many sharp or hot objects that pose serious dangers in the kitchen. To work independently and accident-free in the kitchen, plan ahead for cooking tasks.
  2. Consider the control buttons you use to turn your stove on and off and change the temperature from low to high. Controls at the front of the stove are easier and safer to use than the traditional back-of-the-stove controls. Also, push-button controls typically are easier to use than those that turn.
  3. Automatic shut-off controls can be installed for safety.
    Consider an over-the-stove mirror to help you see stove top contents if cooking while seated.
  4. Keep a clear space near the stove where you can place a hot pot or pan quickly.
    Make sure you have oven mitts on hand.
  5. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.
  6. The kitchen table should be at the right height for a wheelchair or for a chair with arms that supports your posture.
  7. What Can Help
    Ask your doctors and therapists to help you solve everyday living issues.
  8. New resources, equipment and therapies are available each year. Take advantage of them to improve your quality of life.
  9. Continue to set new goals for your stroke recovery.
  10. Be creative.
  11. Get information on stroke recovery from your local stroke association.
  12. Join a stroke support group. Other survivors will understand, validate your issues, and offer encouragement and ideas for managing life at home.
  13. Speak honestly with your family and caregivers about your home living needs.
    They’ll be glad you did, and, together, you can often work out the best solution.

Professionals Who Can Help
Occupational therapist, who helps stroke survivors manage daily activities.
Physical therapist, who assess problems with moving, balance and coordination.

Rehabilitation is a lifetime commitment and an important part of recovering from a stroke. Through rehabilitation, you relearn basic skills such as talking, eating, dressing and walking. Rehabilitation can also improve your strength, flexibility and endurance. The goal is to regain as much independence as possible. Remember to ask your doctor, “Where am I on my stroke recovery journey?”

Source: National Stroke Station

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Recovery After Stroke: Managing Life at Home (Part 2)

Cleaning Up

 Use simple cleaning products such as disposable wipes and mop heads.

 Choose one multipurpose cleaning solution for most of your cleaning.

 Use smaller, lightweight containers, wheeled push carts and cleaning tools with long handles or extensions.

 Work on small areas.  Take frequent breaks.

 Let your friends, family, neighbours, or even a maid or cleaning service do some of the work for you.

 Consider a home health aide to help you with daily chores.

 

Doing Laundry

Doing laundry will be less challenging if you make a few simple changes.

 Move laundry machines to a place where you can easily get to them.

 Stackable, front-loading machines may be easier to reach and take up less space.  Use easy-to-reach, labelled detergents and laundry supplies.

 Have easy-to-read markings for wash settings.

 Use a nearby table or cart at the right height for you to sort and fold clothes.

 Use an ironing board that folds down from the wall.

 

Using The Bathroom

Bathrooms are usually tight places and can pose challenges. To make bathing both simple and safe, consider the following:

 Sturdy hand rails

 Grab bars in the tub or shower

 Non-slip flooring strips installed inside and outside of the tub

 Bath tub benches and toilet chairs

 Easy-to-use water control knobs with easily seen settings or long-handled levers.  An adjustable or handheld showerhead.

 Bathing supplies that are easy to reach and use. To make toileting safer:

 Use a cane, walker, wheelchair or grab bars to stabilise and balance yourself whenever you get on or off the toilet.

 Install a raised toilet seat or toilet seat riser to reduce the distance and difficulty in sitting down and getting up.

 Try a three-in-one commode chair with a raised seat, grab bars and a removable bucket. It can be kept near a bed or chair or used over an existing toilet with the bucket removed.

 Use disposable underpants.

 Keep a change of clothing handy in the bathroom for the unexpected. Some bathroom sinks can be tough to use and hard to access. Faucets can be hard to turn and bathroom products hard to use. To make your time at the sink easier, think about getting some of these products:

 A one-piece faucet that has lever handles or long extensions, allowing you to turn water on and off with a fist or arm movement.

 A cut-out or roll-under sink, which allows room for your legs underneath the sink while you are sitting down – especially useful if you are in a wheelchair or are seated while washing.

 Squeeze bottles and soap pumps, which may be easier to use than original containers.

 Suction pads to hold grooming tools or bottles in place on a counter, requiring just one hand to pick up or use.  A flip-top toothpaste tube.

 A toothbrush with a larger handle.  An electric razor (if you shave), which may be simpler and safer to handle than a regular razor

Ask your occupational therapist and/or physical therapist for more tips.

Recovery After Stroke: Managing Life at Home (Part 1)

Managing life at home is an important part of stroke recovery. Whether your “home” is a house, apartment, assisted living facility or retirement home, you still want some independence in your everyday activities. Stroke affects each survivor differently. To live well after stroke, you may need to make some changes in your home and daily routine. A few simple changes can help you keep up your energy level for therapy and the activities you enjoy.

Staying Safe and Connected

 Write out emergency phone numbers in large print on index cards and keep them in handy locations all over your home.

 Arrange for people to check in with you regularly.

 Accept help with household chores such as cleaning, meals and errands. Allow family and friends to drive you places.

 Allow loved ones to support your recovery goals by going to therapy with you, helping with exercises, and playing cards or doing puzzles together.

 Encourage your friends and family to visit or call when they can.

 Plan outings with your friends when you are ready. They will be eager to see you and to celebrate your recovery.

Getting Around Safely

Forty percent (40%) of stroke survivors suffer serious falls within a year after their strokes. The following tips may help you avoid falling in your home:

 Move extra furniture out of the way, either to corners or another room.

 Clear paths to the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.

 Move electrical cords out of pathways.

 Wear non-skid shoes and avoid slick surfaces.

 Remove loose carpets and runners in hallways and stairwells or fasten them with non-skid tape to improve traction.

 Replace thick carpeting with lower pile carpeting to make wheelchair or walker movement easier.

 Install handrails for support in going up and down stairs. Check to make sure they’re securely fastened to the wall.

 Consider stair glides, stair lifts and platform lifts if you need to use the stairs many times during the day.

Source: National Stroke Association

Foot Drop Remedies

I want to share this very simple exercise that helped me regain my ankle movement.I have to say that prior to doing this, I had no ankle movement at all which hindered me from walking with ease and proper posture. I hope you find this helpful.

Ankle exercise for foot drop:

1. Sit down on a chair with a back rest. Your body must be at 90 degree angle to your lap.

2. Try to raise your affected leg but stop it with your working hand from going up.(Maintain the 90 degree posture with bended knee while doing this.)Your must see your foot pointing upward.

3.Make as many repetitions as you can every day.
* If your leg straightens as you try to raise it, you can get someone to hold it for you.
*If you are not strong enough to hold your leg down on your own, you can ask for assistance.
I have proven this exercise to be effective in activating my ankle movement but it could be too strenuous to others so I strongly recommend that you get an advise from your physician if you are strong enough already to do it.

For those of you who can’t do the above exercise just yet, I have this  foot drop assist (which by the way was also recommended by my uncle) that I find very helpful with my walking. I have regained my ankle movement but it is not yet strong enough so I bought it and I think it is absolutely brilliant. It was a bit dear but affordable and really efficient. It looks like this:

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Disclaimer:
I am not in anyway connected to Amazon or any of the companies providing this product. Please talk to your physicians or your health consultant before making any purchase.
If you are interested you can go to Amazon and search for ” foot drop assist”. Then different brands will appear.You can choose which one suits your budget. 🙂

Disclaimer:
I am not in anyway connected to Amazon or any of the companies providing this product. Please talk to your physicians or your health consultant before making any purchase.

Recovery Update and Some Tools

It’s been quite a while since I updated my recovery status because I was so preoccupied with great things happening in my life but I would like to share that I have come a long way from the last time you saw me here….Let me show you a short clip of how improved my walking has become and after wards share some tips as well, on how I achieved it….

Since WordPress won’t let me post the video here I’d uploaded it in youtube and you can see it by clicking this link, https://youtu.be/5S7Y5ffjT6A. I made it short so I do not bore you. This short clip clearly shows how much improvement I have in my walking. I can now walk outdoors without my cane though my ankle has not fully recovered its strength just yet.. I will discuss about that later on in another post about foot drop but for now let me tell you what I think has helped me so much to regain my leg, arm, and shoulder strength.

I am talking about this stationary bike from Amazon which I really consider a good buy. When I came to England I still couldn’t walk without a cane on rough, uneven surfaces which made it difficult for me to walk outdoors even with my stick plus I was kind of getting flabbier. My therapist suggested that I lose weight for faster recovery so I decided to get this as I cannot do heavy exercises just yet and it is too cold to go for a walk out.Besides I had this portable stationary bike when I was in the Philippines which I also used back there but it had no caloric meter. I have to say that this really helped me in a great way especially that I spend a day burning 1000 calories, that is about 3 hours on it…. It is easy to use and you can do it while watching , surfing the internet, or just reading….I strongly recommend you to purchase a stationary bike.

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Stationary Bike with Caloric  meter

For my fellow survivors in the Philippines you can purchase the portable stationary bike at Lazada for just about 600 to 700 pesos and that is cash on delivery. I am not sure if they deliver in Amazon there but you can try. If you are not keen to shop online, you can ask your therapist where you can get one.For those who might be interested you can click the picture below and it will open the Lazada page where you can place your order.

I was also fortunate enough that my husband, who is also a stroke survivor as well has purchased a TENS machine which I also found effective in stimulating the nerves and enabled my arm and shoulder to move better. You can order one from Amazon or E-bay. In our case my husband bought the Beurer EM 80 which I think is absolutely brilliant because there is an option for massage. I am not quite sure if you have any idea about TENS yet but I will get into more details about it on another post later on. This is an image I grabbed online.

Beurer EM80

For my fellow survivors in the Philippines you can also find similar machine in Lazada.

Disclaimer: I am not in anyway connected to any of this companies who sell these machines and I am just sharing my experience with their satisfactory products. You are not obliged to purchase any and I am not held liable for any problems that may arise related to the use of the products. Please consult with your physician or therapist before making any decisions.

Lastly I recently joined a body toning class once a week for an hour. I find it really helpful especially the core exercises. I do not strictly follow all the movements but I try to do them as much as I could and the result is just brilliant.

I hope that these tips will also be helpful to your recovery and if I could do it, why can’t you!? ‘Til my next post!

 

I’m Back!!!

It’s been a while since I updated this blog and finally I am able to get back!
Something big happened a couple of months after starting this blog which has changed my life entirely. Indeed Miracle is real as it happened to me in a very short period of time! Please excuse me if you do not believe in God, but I lift up all the glory to Him and I believe that all this great and wonderful blessings I am experiencing right now are all His doings.
To begin with, I am married. I got married in July 22nd this year which is a big surprise not only to my family but to me the most. I met this good man in a stroke survivor group who was an avid fan of this blog… We started talking and before we knew it we were already saying “I do” in front of the Judge.We then decided that I move to England to live after the wedding and we immediately processed my papers.By the grace of, God I got my Visa in less than a month and came to England on the second week of September on the same year. Great things happened so quickly and I had to stop blogging for a while until I am finally settled and able to write again.
So why am I sharing this? Because if good things happened to me after a massive downfall in my life because of stroke, I believe it could happen to you as well… Just hang on in there and don’t lose faith in God!

Restoring lost movement from stroke may be possible, study suggests

Scientists have long thought that motor function lost from a stroke can’t be restored, but a new animal study suggests inducing a second stroke may make that possible.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that when they induced a second stroke near the region of a first stroke in mice, the rodents could grab food pellets with their once-disabled paws as well as they had pre-stroke.

The study authors said they don’t encourage inducing stroke in humans to reverse lost movement from a previous stroke. But, they argued in their paper that the results hint mammals’ brains that have experienced stroke may be more “plastic” than originally thought—and that this conclusion may aid in the development of another therapy that would help this patient population.

“If we can better understand how to reopen or extend the optimal recovery period after a stroke, then we might indeed change how we treat patients for the better,” study author Dr. Steven Zeiler, Ph.D., an assistant professor of neurology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a news release.

In a previous study, researchers at Johns Hopkins found that the optimal window for stroke recovery is seven days after the event has occurred, but in the current animal model, they found that a common antidepressant, fluoxetine, helped lengthen that window. Before the initial study, scientists believed that seven-day period was inflexible.

“Our study adds new strong and convincing evidence that there is a sensitive period following stroke where it’s easiest to relearn motor movements— a topic that is still debated among stroke researchers,” Zeiler said in the release.

 

Source:

Fox News – Health

CoQ10 Supplement

The skeletal muscles, heart, brain and other organs require Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) to create optimal energy production for growth and repair. The powerhouse of every cell is the mitochondria, which generates the ATP cells use for energy. CoQ10 helps supply this powerhouse with needed fuel.

Currently, CoQ10 is used to battle heart failure, aid in stroke recovery and for anti-aging skin treatments. This nutrient has shown promise in combating Parkinson’s disease, chronic kidney failure and migraines. It’s used regularly in fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue protocols for its effect on energy production. Gum disease has also responded well to supplemental CoQ10.

Production of CoQ10 decreases with age and certain medications. Statin drugs (including any drug with a name ending in, “statin”) are very effective at lowering cholesterol levels, but can also block the body’s natural ability to make this energetic nutrient. Many speculate this decrease in CoQ10 leads to some of the side effects that patients may experience. For statin drug users, physicians recommend supplementing with CoQ10 to alleviate the potential for fatigue or muscle cramps.

Other commonly prescribed drugs that deplete the body’s CoQ10 levels include clonidine, glyburide, hydrochlorothiazide, nortriptyline, doxepin, glipizide, beta-blockers (meds that end in “olol”) [Source: Drug-induced Nutrient Depletion Handbook].

Nearly everyone with a chronic illness is a candidate for supplemental CoQ10, including those with symptoms of fatigue, muscle aches, brain fog or loss of stamina. This nutrient has become very important in the treatment of cardiac and neurologic problems. Additionally, a study in the Archives of Neurology showed the use of CoQ10 was well tolerated and reduced the worsening of Parkinson’s disease [Source:Schults]. Patients interested in wellness and disease prevention should consider CoQ10 one of the top nutrients to include in their regimen.

With studies including daily dosages up to 3000 mg, CoQ10 maintains a strong safety record. Recommended dosages are 50 mg-400 mg, with food. There are no known significant toxicities or interactions associated with CoQ10, found in ubiquinol and ubiquinone forms. The newest form, ubiquinol, is thought to be absorbed better, though most of the successful research to date has been done on ubiquinone. Clinically, both forms benefit the conditions mentioned in this article.

Recommended Dosing:

For those on statin drugs for cholesterol: 100 mg daily

Migraine headache sufferers: 100 mg daily

Heart failure: 150-300 mg daily

Parkinson ’s disease and other neurologic conditions: 300-1,200 mg daily

Hypertension: 75-200 mg daily

Fatigue: 50-150 mg daily

Patients can start at the lower dose and increase to the higher dose after 3-4 weeks if symptoms persist. CoQ10 may take 2-3 months to achieve its full effect and should be taken during or after meals.

Are there food sources of Coenzyme Q10?

Coenzyme Q10 exists in every plant and animal cell. The best sources are fatty fish, like salmon and mackerel, spinach, broccoli and whole grains. For CoQ10 to be received from these foods, they must be raw and unprocessed.

Can my Co10 level be measured?

No consistent, reliable method for measuring CoQ10 levels has been established to date, primarily due to the lack of side effects.

 

Source:

How stuff works – Health

Hair Loss can be a Sign of Increased Stroke Risk

hair-fall

Patchy hair loss is one of the most surprising clues that you are at an increased risk of stroke. A condition called alopecia areata describes uneven hair loss that does not at all look like the usual male pattern baldness or receding hairline that some men begin to experience as early as their twenties. Similarly, most women experience some degree of thinning hair, usually starting in the late thirties or early forties, but typically occurring gradually and distributed all over the head, not producing the bald spots that are a hallmark of alopecia areata.

Alopecia areata, the hair loss condition specifically linked with stroke risk, is very different from the usual hair loss patterns and is also much less common than the more prevalent types of hair loss. A recent research study has shown that individuals who suffer from alopecia areata have double the risk of stroke when compared to people who do not have the condition.

 

How to know if you have alopecia areata

Alopecia means hair loss and areata describes the fact that it occurs in certain concentrated areas. This condition produces sudden bald areas and typically affects young people beginning in their twenties, generally continuing in spurts throughout life. Alopecia areata’s signature small patchy bald spots can make you self-conscious from a cosmetic standpoint. Usually, the hair grows back, but it might be a slightly different texture and, later, hair loss can occur again in the same spots or in different spots.

Stress can cause alopecia areata to act up. It also turns out that, for some people, medical problems such as autoimmune disease and thyroid disease can be responsible for exacerbations of alopecia areata.

Patchy hair loss can also result from harsh chemical hair or scalp treatments, so alopecia areata doesn’t always mean that you have a medical condition causing your hair loss. It is important to get a professional medical evaluation to determine the cause, even if you can effectively take care of the cosmetic issues on your own or with the help of your hair stylist.

Male pattern baldness is normally gradual and causes either a circular area of thinning hair at the top of the head near the back and/or a receding hairline at the forehead. Women’s hair loss generally produces slowly thinning hair all around the scalp as a result of hair falling out or breaking. Thinning hair in women can be stressful and often limits your hairstyle options, but it is not the same as alopecia areata and it is not associated with increase stroke risk.

Why is there a hair loss/ stroke link?

Alopecia areata can be caused by autoimmune disease or thyroid disorders. These same conditions are also known to produce serious alterations in the body’s regular physiologic functions and set the stage for a stroke. Autoimmune conditions are disorders in which the body’s immune system attacks the body itself. This self-attack can manifest in a number of different ways- whether by attacking hair follicles, causing them to break at the roots and producing alopecia areata, or by causing stickiness of blood cells and blood cholesterol, triggering blood clots, hemorrhages and strokes.

What can you do to lower your stroke risk if you are losing hair?

There are a number of effective steps you can take to reduce your risk of stroke if you have alopecia areata. First of all, you should get checked out for the main stroke risk factors, including hypertension, heart disease and high cholesterol. Secondly, because autoimmune disease can manifest as alopecia areata, your doctor will probably evaluate you for common indicators of autoimmune disease or thyroid disease, depending on whether you have other symptoms of either disorder. If it turns out that your medical examination or blood tests uncover any abnormalities, there are treatments to manage your underlying problem.

Overall, this link between alopecia areata isn’t a reason for alarm. It is simply a very early warning sign of possible stroke risk. This warning can be useful to you in managing your health so that you can stay healthy for the long run.

Source:

About Health

Kinesio Taping to Restore Lost Arm Function After Stroke

A 2006 journal article examined the effectiveness of Kinesio Tape application in restoring functional use of the arm and shoulder after stroke-induced paralysis. This type of paralysis, known as hemiplegia, occurs on only one side of the body and can affect muscles in the face, arm, and leg, though the article in question deals only with the arm. Authored by Ewa Jaraczewska and Carol Long, the article is called “Kinesio Taping in Stroke: Improving Functional Use of the Upper Extremity in Hemiplegia.”

Therapeutic Kinesio TapingThe article’s abstract describes its focus for providing Kinesio Tape instruction, as follows: “The purpose of this article is to present the Kinesio Taping method used to improve the upper extremity function in the adult with hemiplegia. The article discusses various therapeutic methods used in the treatment of stroke patients to achieve a functional upper extremity.”

The introductory matter for the article goes on to explain the second key reason the authors had for writing the piece, stating that “the only taping technique for various upper extremity conditions that has been described in the literature is the athletic taping technique.” It’s clear, then, that in writing this piece, the authors sought to correct the lack of information available on this particular therapeutic use of Kinesio Tape.

The authors provide information on assessment, as well as on the use of Kinesio Tape and the Kinesio Taping Method in conjunction with other therapies to “(facilitate) or inhibit muscle function, support joint structure, reduce pain, and provide proprioceptive feedback to achieve and maintain preferred body alignment.” Before they delve into the details of the Kinesio Tape Methodhowever, the authors ensure that the reader recognizes the importance of the information that will follow, reminding him or her that “restoring trunk and scapula alignment after the stroke is critical in an effective treatment program for the upper extremity in hemiplegia.”

The article begins by describing the various types of muscular weakness or imbalance that may occur as the result of a stroke, creating severe limitation in the use of the affected limb. These include body misalignment, poor postural control, muscular spasticity, and poor voluntary muscle control.

The authors use photographs to illustrate the proper application of Kinesio Tape to specific muscles and muscle groups for various therapeutic uses, such as to relax a tight muscle, to support a weak muscle, to relax an overstretched muscle and provide proprioreceptive feedback. In the photographs in which the authors felt that proper Kinesio Tape application technique would be clearer through instructional markings on the tape, they inserted explanatory arrows and other similar markings (albeit somewhat crudely drawn) to demonstrate such technical factors as the direction of application of the Kinesio Tape (either from origin to insertion or insertion to origin), a factor which plays a critical role in the tape’s effectiveness for specific therapeutic purposes.

This in-depth treatment of the topic provides a great deal of information for anyone interested in using Kinesio Tape to help restore function to the arm or shoulder after a stroke. The authors provide detailed explanations of the functional anatomy and kinesiology of the various structures that affect arm movement and offer step-by-step instructions for each specific application of the Kinesio Tape Method for a particular functional deficit.

While the online article is an old-style photocopy and the photos also use older technology, as well as crudely drawn instructional markings on the Kinesio Tape (or the photo itself), the information the article contains should nevertheless prove valuable in treating post-stroke upper extremity malfunction.

 

Source:

Research Gate

Kinesiology