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Is it possible to lead a normal life after a stroke? How can I go back to work or drive again? Read about important steps in the months following a stroke.

Utensil Adaptations for Independent Eating

dreamstimefree_275635Most stroke survivors strive for independence regardless of their limitations after their incident. Being independent is a great way to combat depression, feel good about yourself, and take some of the pressure off your caregiver. Even if you can only do a few things by yourself, it is important to do those things and to try to do as many other skills as possible. Eating by yourself is often considered an essential exercise for most stroke survivors. Besides bathroom skills, eating by yourself is usually at the top of the list.

However, eating with one arm paralyzed or facial droop can make the act challenging. You may be surprised to know that several medical supply companies have developed specialized tools to help stroke survivors gain this piece of independence. Your best source of information for modifications in this area is your occupational therapist. They can help you develop the skills to perform the activities of daily living, such as eating. As a result, they are a wealth of information for the stroke survivor and caregiver. If your therapist has not already suggested the following modifications, it may be beneficial to mention them, emphasizing your desire for independent eating.



Tabletops present the first problem for stroke survivors who want to eat independently. Most tables are either too high or too low for independent eating. For instance, if you are in a wheelchair, you may not be able to comfortably reach the table with your legs underneath the tabletop. Similarly, with a low table, you may not be able to span the space between the table and your mouth. You should experiment with tables at different heights to find the best one for you. Low tables are best for those in wheelchairs and high tables are for those with weaker arms.

Another problem with tabletops is that they are often slick. Even with a cloth on the table, it is easy to push the bowl or plate around if you are only using one hand. In this case, a great piece of equipment called Dycem can help to keep the plate stable. It is essentially a piece of rubber that grips both the table and the plate. This allows you to put as much pressure on one side of the plate or bowl without it skidding out from underneath your hand. Some placemats may also help with this problem and help keep bowls from moving. Non-slip shelf liner is another possibility for keeping the plate stable.


Bowls and Dishes

Bowls and dishes can present a problem as well. It is easy to push food around the dish and straight off the other side onto the tablecloth. This is embarrassing as well as frustrating for the stroke survivor, but there is equipment that can help with this problem. Many dishes are on the market now that have a side of the plate curled upward. You can push the food against this wall, get the food on the utensil, and then lift it to your mouth independently. Of course, this is not fine china and is made of plastic, but it will allow you to eat by yourself without the frustration of migrating food.

Bowls can be difficult, too. It is easy to knock them over and cause a spill. Sometimes it is hard to eat the contents of a bowl, since they are liquid, but bowls can help with the migrating food issue. For stroke survivors, wide bottom, non-skid bowls are available that can keep them from tipping over. They taper toward the top, helping you to push food onto your fork or spoon. Bowls are a great alternative to plates because they often don’t result in spilling the food when they are of the proper, wide bottomed shape.


Forks, Spoons, and Knives

Finally, the forks, spoons, and knives you use can affect how independent you are with eating. Often, a traditional fork isn’t very useful. With hands that are crippled by contractions or paralysis, the simple act of holding one of these slender items is more difficult than any of the other problems. You should get utensils that have handles on them that can allow for a better grip. Sometimes, a widened, rubberized end to the fork or spoon can allow for enough bulk that you can use it yourself.

In circumstances when you are unable to use your hands in any controlled situation, there are forks and spoons that have handles and are bent. These utensils actually have a slot where you can fit your fingers in and aim the business end of the utensil at your food. This will help you to scoop up your food, despite how weak your arms and fingers may be. Most stroke survivors will be unable to cut their own food, and often caregivers have to help with this particular skill. However, if you eat items that don’t require cutting, it is possible to be entirely independent while eating, depending on the severity of your stroke.

Posted on April 17, 2015

Ways to Socialize after a Stroke

iStock_000017968604XSmallHaving a stroke can be isolating.  If you have a deficit in speech or trouble getting around, it is easy to just stay in the house and not socialize.  In fact, many stroke survivors find that they get depressed, and this keeps them from getting around people.  Some are very embarrassed by the way their body behaves now – such as being unable to control bowel or bladder and the need for assistive equipment – and this will keeps a stroke survivor chained to their homes. Continue reading

Posted on January 11, 2014

Hobbies that are Stroke Survivor Friendly

Family Plays Video GamesWhen you’ve had a stroke, you may feel like you can’t do anything.  Instead of focusing on what you can do, you may tend to focus only on your deficits and the things you are unable to do.  Unfortunately, this can lead to depression, withdrawal, and sometimes thoughts of suicide.  While your medications and doctor appointments are vitally important, you should not ignore the leisure activities that are going to help you feel more like your old self.  The opportunities for hobbies are limitless, even if you have severe deficits.  With some modifications, many old hobbies and new interests can be shaped to your needs. Continue reading

Posted on December 10, 2013

Grieving the Loss of Function after a Stroke

elderly_2131816bEveryone knows you go through a grief process when you lose a loved one.  In fact, most people know that there are five stages to the process, the first being denial.  What many don’t know or understand is that grieving is a process we go through for many life circumstances.  For instance, losing a job, getting a divorce, or sending the kids off to college can elicit grieving feelings in the person who feels the loss. Continue reading

Posted on November 27, 2013

Considerations when Adapting Your Home for a Stroke Survivor

windowThe shock of a stroke can leave patients and family members reeling.  From the initial worry about death to the slow process of accepting limitations, the road to “normalcy” seems to be pockmarked with large and hazardous sinkholes.  Fortunately, many stroke survivors do not immediately return to the home, and this can give family members an opportunity to adjust the environment to suit their new needs.  Whether your loved one is able to head back to modified independence or they are moving into your house, certain considerations should be addressed before they arrive home from rehabilitation. Continue reading

Posted on November 1, 2013

Quick Guide to Post Stroke Therapies

08stroke_spanThe first few days after a stroke are confusing enough.  From the initial worry about surviving the incident to learning how to deal with new limitations, it is completely understandable to be overwhelmed in the first few weeks following such a life-changing incident.  Once you or a loved one is out of the hospital, you will face a bewildering array of therapies that aim to increase the functional abilities after the stroke.  For someone who has no background in medicine, the different types of therapies may not readily indicate what exactly they are supposed to do for the stroke survivor. Continue reading

Posted on October 4, 2013

Stroke Doesn’t Define You: What You Can Learn from Janine Shepard

Janine-Sephered-Personal-bestStroke certainly affects your physical and mental abilities, but many patients are unprepared for the impact it has on their morale, their attitude, their soul. A trip to the bookstore or idle browsing at Amazon will reveal countless inspirational stories and strategies for overcoming the hurdles life can sometimes present, but very few focus on the particular problems a stroke survivor must face. Fortunately, the story of Janine Shepard is one that transcends medical particulars and speaks to the heart of what it is to face physical challenges and overcome them in triumph. Continue reading

Posted on August 1, 2013

Mirror Therapy after a Stroke

urlMirror therapy may sound like a funny treatment for the deficits following a stroke, but recent thought seems to indicate that it may be beneficial. The mind is a highly changeable, plastic organ. This means that the brain can adapt to the deficits caused by the stroke. It accomplishes this task by recruiting other areas of the brain to compensate for those functions lost in the damaged area. Continue reading

Posted on July 25, 2013

Post-Stroke Conditions: What is an Intention Tremor?

196A74415037161F155D33In the realm of post-stroke conditions, tremors are common.  Although the general public may think of stroke as primarily causing paralysis, the appearance of a tremor is likely to occur with less severe strokes that do not completely paralyze.  As with all post-stroke conditions, tremors depend on where the stroke was located and how severely that part of the brain was impacted. Continue reading

Posted on July 9, 2013

What You Can Do to Lower the Chance of Another Stroke

ibi-physician-office-system-program-edmonton-02A stroke is a devastating, life changing occurrence that knocks most patients for a loop when they come to terms with the reality of the situation.  Some patients experience profound disability following a stroke, and some only suffer minor deficits that are easily surmounted with physical therapy and medications. Continue reading

Posted on June 27, 2013

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