Stroke Survivor

A stroke survivor dedicated to helping people with disabilities live full lives.

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HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 561
Commending Paul Berger
.

 Paul Named Virginia Advocate of the Year
AHA's "You're the Cure" Honor
Click here

Stephanie receives Fairfax Caregiver
Award

***
Stephanie blogs for Disruptive Women in Healthcare

Physical and Mobility
Disability Products

 

leg braces and othoticsLeg Braces and Orthotics

PAUL:  Over the years since my stroke, I have used a variety of ankle-foot orthotics to help overcome the weakness in my right leg. For the past five years, I've used a small ankle brace that straps around my foot and ankle, supporting and stabilizing my ankle while allowing a little movement to help stretch and tone the leg muscles. With Velcro straps, it's easy to put on with one hand. It's very sturdy and lasts years with every day use.  But best of all, it fits inside a regular shoe! Order online

Alternative Brace for Foot-Drop

Strap Set with liner.sizeThe brace system costs about $90, and should be measured and adjusted by your physical therapist. Recently, I mangled one of the straps and was able to replace it with the MalleoLoc Strap Set with Liner for about $30. Order online.

folding seat caneCanes and Portable Seats

PAUL:  I use different canes when I need them.  I have a light weight folding cane-chair with a canvass seat for visiting museums and other places where I might need to sit.  I prefer this four-legged cane seat to the three-legged ones, because it is more stable to sit on, lighter to carry, the canvas is a more comfortable seat, and it doesn't clank when I walk.  Also, I have a cane that folds down to the size of an umbrella to pack when I travel.  This is similar to the one I have used for years. Order online

folding travel caneFolding Travel Cane.

Features: Maple handle, strong lightweight aluminum, folds into compact plastic carry case included. Adjustable height from 33 - 37 inches. Order online

cane holderCane Holder.

Keeps cane upright for easy access in restaurants

Order online

clamp for mouse padArm Support for Computer Use
PAUL:  Since I can't use my right hand, my left hand does double duty, especially on the computer. During my years of work drafting blueprints for buildings using AutoCAD on the computer, I developed tendonitis in my left arm.  I use an articulating arm support to reduce the stress on my left arm.  It clamps easily onto my computer desk, and is sturdy and durable.  This is similar to the one I've used for many years.

ErgoRest® Articulating Arm Support and Mouse Pad ErgoRest® Wide Clamp for Mouse Pad. Order online

grab barBathroom Safety Grab Bar

PAUL:  After my stroke, I had problems with balance, standing, and climbing. We had handrails installed on both sides of all our stairs, and grab bars in the bathroom by the toilet and shower, giving me independence and safety. Order online

padded benchTransfer Tub Bench
PAUL:  For safety in the shower, I always use a shower or tub seat with a back.  This is similar to the tub bench I've used since my stroke.  It converts a bathtub into a safe shower for me. I sit down on the part that extends over the side of the tub, then lift my legs and turn. Another tool that makes me independent in the morning. Order online.

BBoot-for-Stroke02oots Over Foot-drop
I finally found a solution for snow, ice, and heavy rain for stroke survivors who wear an ankle brace (orthotic) for foot-drop, like me. It's very hard to safely get my toe in a boot. Most of the time I use the rubber galoshes thatstretch over my shoes. While they protect my shoes from rain, they don't help for deep puddles (which always seem to surround the handicapped parking spaces), or winter snow and slush.

We found a small manufacturer, Vulpine Adaptive, who makes 'shell boots,' waterproof boots that go over my regular shoe (and orthotic). They zip up the front, and have a buckle that tightens around the instep and the upper part of the boot, which reaches over my calf.  They protect my shoe and my pants leg, with warm and waterproof material.Vulpine Adaptive is located in Duluth, Minnesota, order online.

Being a small company, their orders back up. We happened to find similar 'overshoes' advertised in the Skymall magazine from Plow & Hearth; also available from Amazon.com, order online.

OCamon PowerShot Digital Elph Camera1croppedne-handed Digital Photography

Cameras are designed for people who can use two hands, and the button to take the photo is located for the benefit of right-handed people. After my stroke, I lost the use of my right hand, and found taking pictures a challenge. I wanted to be able to take good photos of our special trip to New Zealand (Stephanie & I traveled there to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary).

I finally found a camera that worked for me!  It's a Canon PowerShot SD630 6MP Digital Elf Camera. This digital camera:

    * Is small, only about 3-1/2 inches by 2-1/2 inches
    * Has a huge view screen covering most of the back of the camera
    * Very light-weight
    * Easily carried either in my shirt pocket or in
    a small soft case that hooked on my belt
    * Takes crisp clear photos.

I bought a 1-gig memory card and set the photo size to medium, giving me almost 1,000 pictures.  I took 400!  I have great shots of New Zealand mountains and glaciers and hills and lakes and people.

The camera is available in camera, computer, and department stores, click here.

Shower Time

Rope ClockDoing everything with one hand takes more time. You can manage this in two ways:

    1. Try new things to make your routine easier
    2. Watch the time

By watching the time you start and finish a task, you learn how to plan your day.  Also, you see improvement as you practice and finish faster.

This is true in the shower, too. I have a waterproof clock that hangs on a rope over the shower arm and runs on regular batteries. When I first came home from the hospital, it took me more than an hour to take a shower. Today, it takes about 20 minutes, including drying off.

You can view & order the shower clock on Amazon.com, click here

Lighting Candles with One Hand

Lighter-BiCSurestart03Lighting candles for holiday or birthday celebrations can be hard one-handed. Matches are almost impossible for me. Instead, I use a lighter that looks like a small gun, the BiC Surestart® Aim-N-Flame Lighter. You hold down the hammer with your thumb, then pull the trigger and a little flame leaps out.

You can buy them at most hardware stores, some chain drug
stores, or from Amazon.com, click here.

Measure & Cut in One Swipe

Fiskar Personal Paper TrimmerCutting paper in a straight line with one hand is a challenge. I use the compact & lightweight 12" Fiskars Paper Trimmer on my desk. I can line up a regular-sized piece of paper, measure and cut just where I need to cut with a swipe down the built-in ruler. The ruler extends to the full length of the paper. You can cut coupons, photos, notepaper easily. It can cut a few pieces of paper at a time.

It comes with a replacement blade and costs less than a good pair of scissors. To see one like mine, click here.

Holding Small Books, Checkbooks,  & Papers with One Hand

90 Degree Angle02Some of my favorite tools are my angle weights. They look like small bookends, but are heavy enough to hold open a checkbook or paperback book, or serve as a paperweight. They don't break or chip. I have all three sizes, and probably use the 2" x 2" the most.click here.

phone holster.-size03 Belt Clip-type Phone Holder

I carry my cell with me all the time. Since I can use only one hand, the standard clip-type phone holders are hard for me. At first I stuffed the phone in my shirt pocket, along with my notepad and pen. But when I bent over, it would fall out. I finally found a cell phone holster with loops for my belt similar to the Lux Leather case available on Amazon.com, click here.

Incredible Machine for Your Desk

PaperProDeskTopStaplerIt works every time. It staples 2 pages or 20 pages with the same easy, light touch -- one finger!  Every time.It's the PaperPro® Desktop stapler, lightweight and powerful with ergonomic shape and rubberized, non-slip handle. And it is very affordable. To see one, click here.

Important Daily Helper

apexz.size.pgTimex Weekly sizejpg02Staying healthy after a stroke often requires taking multiple medications. It is very important to take them on schedule, as the doctor directs. Missing doses or mixing them up can make you sick..click here or click here

Fun & Easy Stretching

Gymnastik BallOne of my favorite reasonably-priced physical therapy tools is the Gymnastik Ball. It's a strong, resilient, plastic ball with a diameter of about 18 inches. I have used it for many years in my therapist's office and at home for PT exercises to help stretch my upper body muscles and relieve back stiffness. And it's a hit with my niece and nephews who roll around on it when they visit. For more information, click here

Doorway to Better Arms

Theraband6YearRoll,size1pgTherabandDoorAnchorl.,size02

I do stretching and strengthening exercises at home to help the tone of my muscles. One fun and easy exercise is using an elastic strap to pull my weak right arm. I use a Theraband with a door anchor. I put the anchor over the door, close it, then slip my hand into the loop at the end and feel the pull for a count of 30. Then I go side-to-side10 times. My physical therapist gives me other exercises, too.

To see these reasonably priced Therabands, click here.
To see the door anchor, click here

Shirt Sleeve Tool

Collar.extender.sizeMy right hand is paralyzed from my stroke. I can't button my sleeve on my good left arm, so I use a collar extender on the cuff button. This gives me a little extra room to slip my hand through and other people do not notice it. I put the extender on by myself before I put on the shirt, so I do not need my wife's help -- one more small way to be independent!

You can buy these inexpensive and reusable extenders at sewing stores. To see the type that I use, click here.

Hold Paper with Dycem

Dycem.sizeMy right hand is paralyzed from a stroke. When I write or do other activities on my desk, to hold the paper in place, I use a square of Dycem. Dycem is a non-slip material that solves many of the stabilization and gripping problems for people with stroke or similar problems using both hands.You can buy a roll for your desk for about $25. To see what I use, click here.

Straps and Wheels to Go!

delsey.trolley.tota.size02I needed a new carry on bag for my summer vacation. I wanted something small and lightweight, but with wheels so I could pull it for the long walks through the airline terminal. Many of these small bags have wheels, and handles. Since I can only use one hand, I also need a shoulder strap. I found a bag with all these features: the Delsey Helium Fusions 17 Trolley Tote. To see one like mine, click here.

Easy Socks

black sox,sizeI can only use one hand when I dress, so putting on socks can be hard. Casual cotton socks are okay, but when I need to wear a jacket and tie, I need black dress socks. I found Clarks' men's socks to be the best. They are soft, easy to stretch, and keep their shape on my leg. They are a mix of rayon, nylon microfiber, and acrylic. For a store near you, visit the Clarks' website, click here.

I order them in the shoe store or by phone, since they are not yet available for purchase from the website. Call: 1-800-425-2757 and ask for black socks, item # 413303001001 (Style # HA-133). They ship them directly to the house

Heavy weight

angle plate 3i nches.sizeMy right hand is paralyzed, so when I need to hold open my checkbook or reference books or other items, I use a set of angle weights made out of a heavy, non-magnetic metal. I also use them in my hobbies and crafts to join or hold 2 parts together. These "angle plates" come in a set of 3 weights: 1 inch, 2 inches and 3 inches squares with a 90 degree angle.

I found them with other hobby supplies at MicroMark, click here.

Video Tech

wii.sizeThe Wii virtual reality video games have many uses in stroke recovery. A recent study showed improved recovery of paralyzed hands when clients spent hours on a Wii virtual cooking or virtual tennis game. Other Wii virtual sports and exercises improve balance, and clear your brain after speech therapy or other hard work.

You can buy the Wii system at electronics and department stores and through Amazon and other online stores. To see the system and learn more, click here.

Hard-to-Reach Places

Bristle Back Brush.sizeI can only use one hand, so in the shower I use a long- handled soft brush to reach my back and left arm. These are available at drug stores, bath shops, and online. To see one similar to the wood bristle back brush I use, click here

Instant Sunglasses

Sunglasses.sizeI wear prescription eyeglasses and have tried clip-on sunglasses. These are hard to clip on-and-off with TWO hands, and very difficult when you only have the use of ONE hand, like me, especially if you're driving and go from a shady area to bright sunlight. I found these "Instant Sunglasses" that are molded plastic with great ultraviolet light protection that I can pull out of my shirt pocket and easily slide behind and on to my regular prescription eyeglasses with just one hand. They come in different sizes and colors.

To see "Instant Sunglasses" like the ones I use, click here.

Tripod Base

Tripod Base.jsize.pgThe specially weighted Able Tripod Base is designed to replace your cane tip turning your cane into a conveniently self standing, and stable assistive aid for daily living. The stylish design is aesthetically pleasing making you feel less infirm and is biomedically engineered to normalize gait in most neurological and orthopedic disorders. The specially formulated rubber is durable and flexible providing increased traction on most terrain giving you confidence even on grass, gravel, and sand where typical canes can sink into the ground. The pods flex as you walk reducing the shock of impact on your hand wrist and elbow. The state of the art design is small, lightweight and easy to use on stairs. The shape conforms to your foot and can be used in either hand without adjustment.

To see one, click here

Martin Lafayette Drafting Height Chair

Drafting Seating-cropWhen I went to drafting school a few years ago, I could not sit on a regular stool, so I bought a drafting chair that could be adjusted to the higher levels of a drafting or art table. It has a back, a foot rest, and wheels.

Recently, when my new back problems made it difficult to stand for more than a few minutes while working in the kitchen, I pulled out my old drafting chair. It is exactly the right height for kitchen chores. I can sit and wash the dishes, load the dishwasher, and roll the chair to the fridge and cupboards to take out and put away food and cooking utensils.

The Martin Lafayette Drafting Height Seating in Black is similar to the chair I use. It adjusts from 25 to 34-inches using a pneumatic mechanism. To see one, click here.

Vanity Table Set

Vanity Table Set in Cappuccino - Coaster 1-croze-sizeWith a weak right leg from my stroke, I like to sit for most of my morning and evening grooming and dressing. We bought a desk-size table with a mirror that matched our bedroom set. I keep my toiletries, wallet, comb, and other things on this table. I have a power strip for my electric shaver and cell phone charger.

You can find these dressing tables ("vanities") in furniture stores. To see one, click here.

One-Handed Cleaning

All peopunright broom dustpan set-smallle can make a mess, whether they had a stroke or not. Sometimes I drop cereal on the kitchen floor, or knock over a box, bag, or bottle. It is hard to bend over, so I can't use a regular dust pan.  Stephanie found a long- handled dust pan and broom set for me. The handles are the same length. I can sweep the floor, then move the dust pan near the pile, then easily sweep in the mess, lift the full dust pan and empty it into the trash can.

To see one like mine, click here.

Speeding-up the morning routine

Suit Valet Rack Stand Organizer copy4.2One way that I cut out a few minutes of time in getting dressed in the morning is by planning what to wear the night before. I select my shirt and pants, examine to be sure they are clean, and hang them on a sturdy metal "suit valet." I use the Walnut Finish Wood & Metal Suit Valet Rack Stand Organizer, with a chrome metal finish, about 40" high and 20" wide. It has a place to hang your jacket, shirt, and pants. I keep it near my dressing table

To see one like mine, click here.

Leg & Back Support

CONTOUR FOAM LEG.SIZEThe stroke-related weakness of my right side causes me to bend and twist my spine unevenly, resulting in lower back pain, particularly in the morning. I found the Contour Memory Foam Leg Pillow works for me overnight. It's reasonably priced and made of memory foam with a super-soft velour cover, and is specially designed to help relieve pain and pressure on your lower back, hips and knees by properly aligning knees and hips during sleep.

To see one like mine, click here.

Wrist Band - A Tip from a Reader

Recently one of our readers sent a tip to share. Lisa R. recommended the Wrist ID band for medical information. She said, "My husband had a stroke in September, 2010. He wears the Road ID Wrist Band whenever he goes out. I know that if something happens, even if he is with me, information is readily available for medical personnel. It gives us both a level of comfort."

To see one, click here.

Carrying Things

Shoulder Bag sizeTo carry my Kindle E-reader, earphones & charger, I use a nylon padded mini-carry-on bag that measures about 8" x 10" x 3" with an adjustable shoulder strap and zipper compartments for pens, paper, and other small items. I can grab it, sling it around my shoulder, and take it anywhere.

Here are some similar to mine, click here.

Products for Rehabilitation

The Medical House is a distributor of the highest quality products in home health care and rehabilitation to enable people to remain active and maximize their independence at home. I bought my transport wheelchair from them.  They offer many categories of products.

To visit their site: click here

Carry More Than Lunch

insulated lunch sack 1 x .46I have a durable, waterproof, insulated lunch bag that has a large main compartment and a long adjustable shoulder strap so I can sling it over my shoulder and have my hand free to hold my cane.

    When my back & leg pain is very bad, I use my cane to walk around the house. So, to carry my drink from the kitchen to my home office, I use a travel mug with a lid, and put it in my lunch bag, I carry other snacks around in my lunch bag, too.

To see one, click here.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

quadru. cane tipI use a cane in bad weather or when I feel a little unsteady. My physical therapist introduced me to this great, lightweight, black rubber Quadruple Cane Tip that provides four-point non-slip traction & stability & fits most basic canes.

My cane stands up so I don't have to lean over to pick it up off the floor. And, it works better than my old 3-point cane tip, for less money.

To see one, click here.

One-handed Knitting

Knifty Knitter 210314 Assorted Loom Series with Slim Jim 12-11-13My friend Christy had a stroke a few years ago, and her favorite new hobby is knitting. She has a weak right hand from her stroke, so she uses a variety of knitting looms to make scarves, hats, afghans & other knitted items, with colorful & silky wools.

Here's a set of looms like the ones Christy uses: Knifty Knitter 210314 Assorted Loom Series, click here.

She also recommends: CinDWood Crafts:
http://www.cindwoodcrafts.com

Slippers Over Brace

Foamtreads Men's Physician Slipper 4.59I have an ankle brace (orthotic) that I wear inside my slippers around the house when I'm in my pajamas. I'm always looking for slippers that fit securely on my feet around the brace and was happy to find the "Foamtrends Physician Slipper." The slipper is mostly wool, has 2 velcro-type closures for easy on-and-off, a customizable fit at the heel & instep, and a rubber sole for grip.

To see one like mine, click here.

Tying Shoes

hickies cuttingOne of my stroke group friends showed me these great new shoe laces, the Uptown Hickies Elastic Lacing System. They are easy to use with one hand, allow you to slip in and out of your shoes while keeping them snug. And they come in  all the trendy colors. A set comes with 14 pieces of lace.

To see a set, click here.

Foldable Power Wheelchair

Foldawheel PW-999UL with Travel BagRecently, my physical therapist was traveling and saw a woman using a power wheelchair that was the smallest, lightest wheelchair she had seen. She was so impressed, she stopped her and asked for the name & details

It's the Foldawheel PW-999UL with Travel Bag, by Wheelchair88, possibly the lightest & most compact foldable power electric wheelchair, weighing only 45 lbs, with a battery that can operate around 9 miles.

To learn more, click here

Magic Adventure Hat

Adventure-Hat3cutMy hat is magic--it blocks the sun, rain runs off, and it keeps me dry and cool. It's like an Indiana Jones jungle hat, with a flexible, wide brim. Plus, a great feature for stroke survivors who might be holding or carrying something with your good hand--a chin strap so it doesn't blow off on a windy day.

I found it in an outdoor supply shop: the Exofficio Bugsaway Adventure Hat. It also repels mosquitoes & other bugs, has an anti-glare feature under the brim, mesh-lined headband & crown, and comes in a few different colors.

During our trip to Australia, we experienced sunny days, rainy days, windy boat rides, and bugs in the rainforest. I didn't need an umbrella & indoors, it tucked easily into my raincoat pocket or bag.

To see one like mine, click here

Umbrella Holder for Hands-Free Use

Brella-Bag-Umbrella-crop1Sometimes I would like to use an umbrella when it rains. Since I need to hold the handrail going down steps, and often use a cane outdoors, I'm planning to try the Brella Bag, Hands-free Umbrella Holder Bag to hold my umbrella. It has adjustable straps, and accommodates multiple sizes of umbrellas. The umbrella is not included.

To see one, click here.

 Easy Cutting

classic shears with grip- cripI tested the KitchenAid Classic Shears With Soft Grip at a recent Stroke Comeback Center hands-on review of kitchen products for people with weakness in one hand, like me. They have a soft handle, and stainless steel blades with micro-serrations for enhanced cutting performance & extra thickness for added strength and durability.

To see one like I used, click here

Click here for other helpful everyday products.
Click here for my recommended Aphasia Rehabilitation & Reference Books
Click here for my favorite Internet resources and links

Click here for a list of my books and tapes
Click here to learn about screen reader software and the accessibility features of our website.

Stroke Survivor

info@strokesurvivor.com

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