Stroke Recovery Association of BC

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Archive for December, 2015

How to Conquer the World with One Hand … and an Attitude

Imagine having a stroke at age of 36, being paralyzed on one side and unable toPaulBerger_1speak. That’s what happened to Paul Berger. After three months in the hospital he came home in a wheelchair, with a 15-word vocabulary and the stubborn determination to return to a normal life. A year later, he was walking and talking, back at his old office, but things would never be the same.

Paul Berger’s compelling story, as told in “How to Conquer the World with One Hand … and an Attitude” is an example of the can-do attitude and abilities that many stroke survivors have. It tells the story of 15 years of adventures with stroke and how a stroke survivor and his family take control of recovery to maximize treatment, overcome disabilities and live a full life.
Paul’s stunning accomplishments go beyond writing. He shows how he has become a pro at public speaking, overcoming his severe aphasia, to inspire audiences large and small, many of whom had little or no knowledge or exposure to strokes or stroke survivors before meeting Paul or reading his book. His book shows what life is really like when you have a disability, and how much a person can achieve in the years after stroke with the right attitude!
PaulBerger_2You can find out more about Paul at his website: www.strokesurvivor.com

E-Book: http://tinyurl.com/HowToConquerWorld-Kindle
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN//B005CYYIP2/strokesurvi08-20
Audio: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0966837886/strokesurvi08-20

Understand your strengths and your weaknesses. An important tip in a stroke survivor’s recovery is learning how to compensate for weaknesses and deficits by utilizing a stroke survivor’s strengths.
“Learning how to be as independent as possible is really huge,” says Dawn Niccum, an occupational therapist who works on the acute care floor at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Tri-Cities, Washington. “Learn what your strengths are and learn how to use your strengths throughout the day.
“If you know about your weaknesses you can learn ways to compensate.”

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Painting a Strong Recovery

Painting a Strong Recovery

As an artist, William Amme draws inspiration from the landscapes and seascapes of his WilliamAmme_1favorite places around Delray Beach, Florida where he lives. Five years after suffering an ischemic stroke in 2005, he returned to art as part of his recovery by taking classes at a nearby recreation center and a community high school. Fortunately for Amme, who sketched and painted and created wood blocks prints and wood carvings as hobbies, his ability to create with a paintbrush came back after his stroke. The Delray Beach Public Library recently displayed an exhibition of his work. 

Painting was Natural

“If you can feel it, it comes back, almost like a bike,” he explains. “It felt good, not everything is gone.”

WilliamAmme_2

As an artist, Amme likes the way the paint and brush become one. He also enjoys the tactile sensation of applying paint to canvas and pushing, pulling and partially removing paint with a brush or a knife blade.

“Most of the things—my paper and my painting—are rough and I like that rough idea. I go really quick with it.” One painting that began as flowers turned into a rowboat on the water. “With oil, you can almost push it around and it can become whatever it wants. That’s why I like it.”

WilliamAmme_3

He encourages other stroke survivors to return to their creative pursuits.

“Don’t Give Up! You gotta give it a go and see how it goes. If you did it once, so let’s try it again! You do it again. It’s fun … You never know what I’m going to be doing tomorrow.”

For the original article please go to: http://www.strokesmart.org/William-Amme

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My Stroke of Luck

StrokeOfLuck

My name is Peter. In 2005 I was an Independent Financial Adviser, running my own business from Gateshead, England. On the night of 7/8 July I suffered a severe stroke. In the morning I was found at the foot of the stairs at home; I was very confused, unable to speak normally or to understand anything that was being said to me. I was taken by ambulance to the Stroke Ward at North Tyneside General Hospital. One of the things that helped my recovery most was helping others. I suspect this may have been because I had to concentrate on someone else’s problems rather than my own. I am currently engaged as a Stroke Support Volunteer with Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust.

I have no sense of loss or regret because I cannot remember most of what I have lost. In other words I never have a bad day. Every day is better than the one before as I’m constantly learning and improving. I do not want to underplay the problems that lie ahead for a stroke survivor, nor to hold out false hope. Instead I want to emphasise that with the right help, determination and hard work, some improvement in quality of life might be achieved. It will not be easy. It will take a long time and much of the hard work will fall on the survivor’s family and care-givers, especially in the early years.

The stroke had damaged the left side of my brain and had thus affected the right side of my face, my right arm and leg. My eyesight was severely impaired. Initially I had tunnel vision, but I soon regained peripheral vision on the left side. Even today, I have no peripheral vision on the right side of each eye, a medical condition I now know as hemianopia. I still have some learning difficulty, aphasia and memory problems.

Early recovery

After two weeks I was discharged into the care of my sister Margaret, who lived on a farm in Cumbria with her husband and their two sons. It was as though that family suddenly had an extra child to look after, albeit a rather old, simple and difficult one! My brother in law had to fit a stair gate to stop me falling down the stairs. As soon as I was able, Margaret and my other sister Kath insisted that I take short walks, initially with their support, up and down the farm lane several times a day. Looking back I now know that this was a turning point and it taught me the importance of regular exercise within ones capability.

The next stage  

The next stage was to go on accompanied day trips back home to North Shields. I say home but I did not recognise the place they kept taking me to. I was sure I lived somewhere else, in a much bigger and grander house! These trips soon extended to weekend visits. A couple of months after my stroke I was able to go home full time on my own. My sister Kath, whose strengths are business admin and IT, had the hugely difficult and fraught task of closing down my business. That took about 2 years.

Early strategies

I had to overcome many day-to-day difficulties and my friends were particularly supportive at this time. One day I went for a long walk, because I was feeling adventurous, and I got lost. I had been taught to make “failsafes”, so I had arranged that the last number redial on my mobile would ring a friend. I rang my friend to come and pick me up, which he said he would, if I could tell him where I was. I had no idea so I asked a passer-by, pretending I was not local. This was to save face because I didn’t want to explain yet again that I was a stroke survivor lost in his own neighbourhood.

Someone else helped me get over my “phone phobia.” I had thrown my house phone system in the bin and I would never switch on my mobile because I had a completely irrational fear that when the phone rang it was bad news. I overcame this by arranging with a friend to make and receive calls only at prearranged times. After several weeks I was no longer frightened of the phone.

Reading problems

For a long time I was also terrified of receiving letters because I could not read them and so had no idea what they were about. After being told I had to stop putting them in the bin to solve the problem, a system was worked out where I faxed all correspondence to Kath, who would tell me what was important and how to deal with it.

One day I received a letter, probably not the first, from Northumbria National Health Service Foundation Trust inviting me to attend a day-conference about living with stroke. I was eventually persuaded to attend but before I agreed to go, I had to be absolutely sure that I would be brought back home to safety. Although I did not realise it at the time, just attending this event brought about a fundamental change in my life. From this day I started to act independently and gradually gained enough confidence to enable me to get about and do things on my own. Most things still terrified me but I was determined to take up the challenge.

Early learning experience    

One place this led me to was Norham Open Learning Centre run by North Tynesdie Council in North Shields. There I was assessed and my learning style determined. I started by doing a cookery course, which was followed by one to one tuition which in turn led to literacy and numeracy courses. Because of aphasia I had lost the ability to read and write. I progressed to Level 2 City and Guilds in both subjects.

The website

The idea for this website arose directly out of one of these classes. My tutor encouraged me to enter a competition called “My Story”. It was an opportunity for people who had overcome adversity to tell their stories and have them published online by the BBC. The tutor asked one of the volunteers to help me and it was Ian who had the idea of creating this website to pass on my knowledge to other stroke survivors and their families. To date it has had over 61,700 visitors from 66 countries.

Helping others

At this stage I found that one of the things that helped my recovery most was helping others. I suspect this may have been because I had to concentrate on someone else’s problems rather than my own.

I am currently engaged as a Stroke Support Volunteer with Northumbria Healthcare Foundation Trust. A number of volunteers whose lives have been affected by stroke have been trained to attend their local hospitals and provide support for new stroke patients, their families and care givers.

From August 2011- July 2014 I served as a Public Governor of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust representing the people of North Shields. During my period of office I took an active part in almost every General Meeting and Development Meeting of the Trust and served on the Nominations and Charitable Funds Committees.

Life after stroke            

It’s not a better life I have now, simply a different one. The sense of achievement from trying to help others in a situation similar to mine eight years ago is tremendous. I also now understand why people with poor education or learning difficulties get angry and frustrated, because I have been there. An inability to communicate is probably the most frustrating thing I have ever experienced.

Postscript

So, why do I call my story “A Stroke of Luck?” The truth is that in an unlucky situation I feel very lucky. I do not suffer from the depression which usually follows a serious illness. I have no sense of loss or regret because I cannot remember most of what I have lost. In other words I never have a bad day. Every day is better than the one before as I’m constantly learning and improving.

If you have any comments for Peter, please email feedback.strokeadvice@gmail.com

Peter’s website is here: http://strokerecoveryservice.co.uk/#

Peter’s Ten Top Tips for Stroke Recovery are here: http://strokerecoveryservice.co.uk/#/ten-top-tips/4546154231

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5 Practical Tips for Stroke Recovery from Occupational Therapists

Recovering from a stroke takes lots of hard work and perseverance. Here are five tips from two occupational therapists that can help.

  1. Understand your strengths and your weaknesses.
  2. Aim for independence.
  3. Use daily activities as therapy.
  4. Get support.
  5. Make your home safe for a stroke survivor.

5tips

  1. Understand your strengths and your weaknesses.

An important tip in a stroke survivor’s recovery is learning how to compensate for weaknesses and deficits by utilizing a stroke survivor’s strengths.

“Learning how to be as independent as possible is really huge,” says Dawn Niccum, an occupational therapist who works on the acute care floor at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Tri-Cities, Washington. “Learn what your strengths are and learn how to use your strengths throughout the day. If you know about your weaknesses you can learn ways to compensate.”

  1. Aim for independence.

Whether it is eating, dressing, or bathing, the ultimate goal should be for a stroke survivor to perform these tasks without assistance.

“Be as independent as possible and don’t completely rely on family members,” says Shannon Hodge, lead, in-patient occupational therapist at Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Tri-Cities, Washington.

Niccum says stroke survivors may learn how to wash their face on their own, brush their teeth using a one-handed technique, and sit up in bed, all while in the hospital.

“It’s never too early to learn to do things for themselves,” Niccum says. “Sitting up at the edge of the bed can be a real exercise.”

  1. Use daily activities as therapy.

Niccum recommends looking at day-to-day activities as forms of therapy.

Making a meal, baking a cake, folding laundry, vacuuming, using an affected arm to wipe down a counter, washing a car, hobbies such as fishing or gardening, all require physical endurance.

“By doing things yourself not only are you more independent but you are gaining strength by using the muscles,” Niccum explains.

  1. Get support.

You don’t have to go through a stroke recovery all on your own.

“So many families and people are overwhelmed by the idea of having a stroke,” Hodge says. “Join a support group in their area. Go online to get tips as well. In this area, we have a stroke support group that meets monthly.”

  1. Make your home safe for a stroke survivor.

Reach out to an occupational therapist for ways to make a stroke survivor’s home more adaptable for their recovery.

“Have a therapist do an in-home evaluation to get personalized advice on how to make the home safe and prevent falls,” Hodge says.

For the original article please go to: http://www.strokesmart.org/practical-tips

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