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Stroke Smart Magazine

July/August 2007
Q & A

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Stroke Friendly Summer Events

With Juliann Hanson-Zlatev, O.T.R.

The longer and warmer days of summer make it a great time for planning outdoor events. StrokeSmart investigates what you need to do to ensure a successful event for you and the stroke survivor in your life.

SS: What are some things to think about before planning your event and activities?
You will first want to consider the stroke survivor's physical ability and mobility, especially paired with the terrain where the event is held. Then be sure to choose an event site with terrain that will allow easy access. Here are some questions you should ask before selecting a site:

Is the stroke survivor in a wheelchair? Does he or she use a cane or walker?
Is there a long distance to and from the car to the picnic area?
What type of surface will the survivor be walking or traveling on? (eg. gravel, sidewalk, grass)
Where will the person be seated? Consider whether a picnic bench can be easily accessed.
Where is the nearest bathroom? Is it wheelchair accessible?

SS: After you select the best site, then what's the next step?
Well, there are many things to think about regarding meal planning. A little thought ahead of time can ensure that you pack the right things to make the meal enjoyable for everyone. Consider these questions beforehand:

Will you be using finger foods?
What items need to be cut or pre-cut?
What plates will you use? Melamine, hard plastic and sturdy paper plates are the most stable.
How will the person transport food and drink?
Is the person able to use regular utensils? Adapted utensils such as rocking knives or use of a pizza cutter may make cutting food easier with one hand.
Does the individual have any swallowing issues? If so, make sure there are food choices that are soft and easy to swallow.

SS: Outdoor events generally include games and activities. How should you modify your activities so that the stroke survivor can easily participate?
Whether people are walking, standing or in a wheelchair, they can still join several traditional activities. Just be sure to keep the terrain in mind (rough, smooth) when playing active games that require shifts in balance. Also, it is a good idea to know whether the individual has been cleared by a doctor (be it a cardiologist, neurologist or PCP) for activities that will raise heart rate.

Activities to consider include lawn bowling, croquet, water balloon or bean bag toss, badminton and horseshoes. A picnic is also a great place to read a favorite book, take pictures or play board games.

Remember that each person has different needs and conditions. All of the above activities can be performed from a wheelchair or standing. If you are unsure, as host/hostess, whether an individual can participate, you may ask a therapist or a family member about any movement issues, difficulties or other concerns.


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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.

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