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Things to Consider if you have a Stroke

May 02, 2024 -
elderly lady sitting in a rollator - Stroke article

Every five minutes, someone in the UK has a stroke. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the UK.

But the good news is that mortality rates from stroke are going down every year thanks to a combination of fewer instances, better treatment and improved public awareness.

There are 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK, many of whom have made complete recoveries.

But the recovery process can take months or even years, and mobility aids play a vital role in helping survivors to retain their independence and regain their mobility.

Different types of strokes

Everyone has heard of a stroke, and most of us have direct experience, either personally or through a loved one.

A stroke occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly cut off. It starves the brain of oxygen, and the results can be devastating.

The most common type of stroke, accounting for about 85 percent of cases, is an ischaemic stroke. This is caused by a blockage in a blood vessel, typically a blood clot.

The remaining 15 percent are haemorrhagic strokes. These occur when a blood vessel in the brain suddenly bursts.

Stroke Fast rules

Know the signs and symptoms

When someone has a stroke, every second counts. Swift action through better awareness is the main reason that survival rates have improved in recent years. You might have seen posters at your hospital or GP’s waiting room about the FAST test for spotting when someone has a stroke. FAST stands for Face, Arms, Speech, Time:

  • Face weakness: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped on one side?
  • Arm weakness: Can the person raise both arms and keep them raised?
  • Speech problems: Is the person’s speech slurred?
  • Time to call an ambulance: If you see any of these signs.

Sometimes the symptoms are fleeting and the person seems fine after a few minutes. It is still important to get medical help quickly, as this could be a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), or a mini-stroke.

A TIA sometimes precedes a major stroke, so it should still be treated as a medical emergency.

A serious stroke can have life-changing effects that are physical, mental and emotional. These include the following:

  • Balance difficulty
  • Weakness or paralysis, typically on one side
  • Loss of bladder and bowel control
  • Impaired vision
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Slurred speech
  • Headaches
  • Emotional outbursts

These are just some of the more common effects of stroke, but no two people are affected in exactly the same way. Some effects are temporary, while others can be overcome in time with support and physiotherapy.

Mobility aids for stroke survivors

The unpredictability of a stroke’s effects and their severity mean stroke survivors might need very different equipment from case to case.

It is important to consult with caregivers, as for many people, these will be tools to help on the road to recovery.

The idea is to use these aids to assist safe and independent living without compromising the recovery process. Here are a few examples of mobility aids for stroke survivors:

Bathroom aids – nobody wants to ask for help in the bathroom if they can avoid it, but this is where slips and falls are most likely to happen. Fitting grab rails and adding non-slip mats, a bath or shower seat and a raised toilet seat are quick, easy and inexpensive measures that can make a world of difference.

Dressing aids – tasks like putting on socks or doing up buttons can suddenly seem like mountains to climb after a stroke. Dressing aids like shoe horns, button hooks and sock helpers help stroke survivors to manage by themselves.

Walking aids – Getting active after a stroke is one of the most important parts of recovery and presents one of the biggest challenges. Initially, a seated walking aid might be what’s needed. But as strength and mobility improves, a walking stick is perfect, as it just gives that little extra support, and just as importantly, boosts confidence.

Wheelchairs if a stroke has significantly affected leg strength but arm strength unaffected, a self-propelled manual wheelchair is a great option. It means more work than an electric wheelchair, but is a good way of retaining muscle tone and strength in the upper body.

Kitchen aids – stroke survivors often have weakness or reduced grip in one hand. This can make the kitchen a frustrating and potentially dangerous place. Jar openers, kettle tippers, non-slip mats and easy-grip cutlery all make life easier and safer.  

Coming back stronger than ever

The thought of a stroke is a frightening one, and justifiably so. But we should take heart from the fact that more people than ever are making a full recovery, even from severe strokes.

Combining the right mobility aids with post-stroke therapy and support is core to coming out the other side stronger than ever.

For more advice for stroke patients, we suggest www.stroke.org.uk. 

Jon Wade
Jon Wade

Jon has been working at CareCo since 2019. He uses his extensive product knowledge to provide insights and advice on the best mobility aids for every occasion.

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