After a Stroke – Regain Mobility and Prevent Falls


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A stroke is an incident that results in a brain injury because of either a blood vessel breakage or blockage. An ischemic stroke occurs when a vessel is blocked and the blood flow is cut off to a certain portion of the brain. This accounts for 87% of all strokes. The rest are hemorrhagic strokes, which occur when a vessel leaks or bursts. The blood builds up puts pressure on the brain, resulting in injury. A full third of all stroke-related deaths are caused by hemorrhagic strokes, even though they only make up 13% of the total.

Both types of strokes can cause paralysis, usually on just one side of the body. In fact, weakness and numbness on one side of the body, including the face, is often the first sign that a stroke is occurring. When enough damage has been done by the stroke to cause lingering paralysis or weakness, recovery can take time and patience.

Sometimes the sufferer has difficulty expressing himself because of slurred speech or confusion about which words to use. And sometimes the affected side of the body remains weak and unresponsive. Even when there’s no paralysis, there can be what’s called spasticity, which is stiffness and the muscles’ inability to extend. Physical therapy and drug therapy can be used together to help stroke victims recover. But during the recovery time, it’s important to make sure the environment is adapted to help the stroke victim remain mobile and safe.

Statistics from the National Stroke Association show that 40% of people who have a stroke will fall within the next year and suffer serious injuries as a result. Proper physical therapy and recovery can help prevent this, but because of the lingering effects of a stroke, everyone who’s had one is at high risk of a potentially devastating fall, especially at first. Adapting the home environment to do everything to prevent this is crucial.

There are several adaptations that can be made to help reduce the risk of a dangerous fall. One obvious addition is a grab bar or rail in each place that presents a falling risk. Getting up and down off the toilet can be difficult, so bars around the stool can help. A lifting seat can also make it easier. Simply getting in and out of a chair can be hazardous for a stroke victim. Canes and walkers can help by providing a stable base to hold onto, but this can be hazardous for someone unsteady. A lift chair is the ideal solution, because it will allow the person to stand and simply lean back to be slowly lowered with the chair. The chair will then lift to a standing position, so there’s no need for him to lean forward and possibly throw himself off balance.

Make sure all walking pathways are clear of anything that could catch on a foot, cane or leg of a walker. Grab bars to help him get in and out of bed can also help prevent falls. And don’t forget to check any throw rugs or runners for slippage or loose edges that could cause someone to stumble. Remember that the stroke victim might not be able to lift his feet as high as before, so a thick throw rug that once posed no problem could be a hazard now.

Lift chairs, grab bars and rails, and raised seats for the toilet and tub are some of the easiest adjustments you can make to help a stroke victim stay mobile but safe while recovering.