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Stroke Smart Magazine

March/April 2009

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Maintain Your Style
Wardrobe Changes Can be a Snap

By Gabriela Paredes

Feeling good in your clothes is important and you should not lose this ability because of a stroke. With simple modifications, stroke survivors can keep their own sense of style and continue to wear their favorite clothes.

My mom was paralyzed on her right side after suffering a severe stroke in April 2008. She was hospitalized for a week before entering a six-week rehabilitation program. At the onset of her rehabilitation, my two sisters and I were given a list of recommended clothes that Mom would need, including pants with elastic waistbands and basic T-shirts. This was to help Mom relearn to dress and undress every day; one of many steps to enable her to regain independence. On the same list were clothes to avoid, including anything with buttons, zippers or drawstrings. Not surprisingly, Mom had very little in her pre-stoke wardrobe that was “recommended.”

To provide Mom as much support and encouragement as possible, my sisters and I went shopping in search of new clothes that could assist her recovery. Two days of shopping and several stores later, we realized that most clothes are made with buttons, zippers and drawstrings, none of which were “recommended.”We ended up purchasing some maternity clothes to get Mom through rehabilitation, yet nothing fit correctly and she didn’t feel comfortable wearing them.

My sisters and I discussed what options for disability- friendly clothing might be available once Mom had completed her rehabilitation. We investigated a number of resources for people with disabilities and found none that addressed the issue of clothing. Then, one of my sisters recommended having Mom’s clothes modified to replace the buttons and zippers with elastic and Velcro.

Mom was hesitant at first because she felt that modifying her clothes would surrender her to her disability rather than assist her in recovery. After much discussion, we agreed to modify only a few tops and bottoms and she agreed to give it a try.

First we considered what tops and bottoms would be most useful to her; then we contacted a local seamstress. We replaced buttons with snaps and/or hook-eye on her sweaters and tops. On the jeans, we replaced the zippers with Velcro and added elastic to the waistband.

These minor changes are making it easier for Mom to dress herself, which has improved her self esteem. As a stroke survivor, it is important for you to feel comfortable in your clothing. Also, regaining your independence is an important part of rehabilitation and if you are able to accomplish basic daily functions, such as dressing yourself, it makes the process more successful. For Mom, these small modifications made a big impact . . . without breaking the bank.

Easy AlteratIons

  • Pants: Zippers were replaced by Velcro, and elastic added to the waistbands.
  • Blouses: Buttonholes were sewn closed and buttons replaced with snaps.
  • Sweaters: Buttonholes sewn closed and buttons replaced with hook-eye


Gabriela Paredes is the oldest daughter of a stroke survivor. Her mother lives in California and she lives Cape Cod in Maryland. Her background is marketing and she is currently working on freelance projects.


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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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