November 28, 2019

Motivated for Months Instead of Days

Grasping and releasing thousands of balls for a year with a spring-loaded SaeboFlex splint helped me regain movement in my hemiplegic hand.  During months of boring exercise, activity analysis kept me motivated when I saw what my hand learned to do during functional tasks.  I knew WHY I was working so hard when I saw my hemiplegic hand open to receive an object from my sound hand, hold the object as my sound hand manipulated it, and open so my sound hand could take the object back and put it down.
Later I saw my hemiplegic hand reach out and pick up an object IF I was standing.  I never regained the ability to reach for and grasp an object on a table while I as sitting, BUT below are two examples of the 100+ bimanual tasks I eventually learned to do.  Activity analysis is the gift that keeps on giving.

Photos show a gross grasp which able-bodied people use dozens of times each day

November 20, 2019

I Need to Walk on More than Linoleum

I am glad I had PT after I came home from my knee replacement surgery for what used to be my sound leg.  The first time I walked across carpeting with a cane instead of a walker I was wobbly.  The carpeting felt uneven after waking on linoleum at the hospital and in-patient rehab.  I was glad I had a home health PT to steady me when I panicked.  Half of fall prevention is reducing fear that makes me stiffen up.

The first time I walked outside I was startled by a car that came around the corner quickly.  I did not know the hospital environment had allowed me to develop the bad habit of staring at the ground when I walked.  Again I was glad to have a PT by my side when I froze.  This upsetting experience made me realize I was staring at the floor inside my home as well.  So I began practicing walking while looking up in this less challenging indoor environment.  Walking on linoleum in wide spaces while PTs decide who goes 1st when two clients cross paths does not help stroke survivors learn to divide their attention between environmental challenges and controlling their body.

November 10, 2019

Stroke Survivors Need to Talk

Research with over 1,000 stroke survivors in the UK found that one in five choose to keep their fears to themselves (1).  Major fears included having another stroke, never getting better, and being sent to a long-term care facility.  Reasons for remaining silent included not wanting to worry others and not wanting to sound stupid.

I rarely discuss my stroke issues with family or friends for two reasons.  First, the challenges a stroke creates never ends.  I do not want to see able-bodied peoples' reaction to a litany of complaints that never end.  Second, after trying to explain a few problems to able-bodied people
I found they do not understand the emotional and physical toll a stroke creates.  In contrast, a stroke survivor recently thanked me for a presentation I gave.  I showed him a simple way to hold a toothbrush still while appying toothpaste with his sound hand.  He thanked me enthusiastically because he knew how irritating it would be to clean up sticky toothpaste when a toothbrush falls over every day until he dies.  He gets me and I get him.

Reading stroke survivors blogs showed me that we can get better after rehab ends and my concerns are not stupid.  Stroke support groups are also helpful, but they are not common in rural areas and commuting to urban stroke groups can be difficult.  A group of stroke survivors is designing an internet site that will connect stroke survivors and cargivers across the world.