Finding Inspiration in Other Stroke Survivors

Deanne Stein Health Guide
  • It seems since I had my stroke, I hear more and more stories about stroke and how it affects so many people young and old. I guess because I’m more tuned into the disease. One example was during the weeks and months following my stroke. Just before I had my stroke, a woman moved into the apartment below mine. I remember noticing she had a limp and could hardly move her right arm.

    It was just an observation and I never gave it much thought. After my stroke, I remember feeling frustrated by my disabilities. My mother had moved in to help me. I had a limp and couldn’t move my right arm from the shoulder down. My "dead arm" as I called it, would slam into walls and counters as I walked, since I couldn’t control it. It was quite painful when that would happen. I remember one day when I was feeling a little sorry for myself, I caught a glimpse of my neighbor. She was limping to her car.
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    My mother saw me looking out the window at her and told me that she had talked to her one day while I was in the hospital. She had told my mother that she too, had had a stroke. I remember thinking how strong she was. Our disabilities were the same yet she was dealing with it and living life. She was such an inspiration to me, that I quit feeling sorry for myself. I realized I’m still alive and here with my son and family. If I have these disabilities, then so be it, I can live with it too. I often feel a little guilty, now, years later that I have recovered completely. I’ve lost touch with my neighbor and wonder how she’s doing.

    It is comforting to know, that technology is being developed all the time to help stroke patients. I recently read about a driving simulator similar to flight simulators used to train pilots. One was developed to help people re-learn to drive after suffering a stroke. Nearly 75 percent of stroke patients trained on the simulator were able to pass an official driving test, compared with 42 percent of patients who completed standard training. The simulator offered a 20-mile course and a variety of traffic settings, from quiet country roads to highways. It featured a real steering wheel and brake and accelerator pedals.

    I also read about a new device that stimulates new life in the hands of stroke patients. It’s called the H-200. Electrodes inside the device are programmed to electrically stimulate hand and arm muscles to perform a task, like grasping. One doctor that studied the device said after eight to 10 weeks, the brain actually rewires itself through a process called neuroplasticity and starts sending signals down the arm again. Patients are able to practice with the device at home or in the rehab lab. It awesome to hear of such inventions and how they can help stroke patients become less disabled.

Published On: March 02, 2006