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Stroke Smart Magazine


Spring 2010
THE WEB

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Use the Internet For Recovery
Tapping Into Educational Tools and Social Media Can Help

Stroke survivors and caregivers know all too well how isolating the rehabilitation process can be. But it doesn’t have to be. Even those who are unable to get out often have a direct, interactive link to the outside world via the Internet.  With a computer, an Internet connection and the click of a mouse, stroke survivors and those who care for them will be able to find a support group, resources or the latest research.

The Internet has been an amazing tool for me in my stroke recovery, says Cattina O’Rourke, stroke survivor. It first was a tool of empowerment for me. I used the Internet to research anything and everything I could that was related to stroke in general and the particulars of my stroke. This allowed me to assist my recovery by better understanding what was going on with my body and allowed me to ask the important questions when I saw my doctors.

Educational Tools

Recognizing the importance and impact of the Internet, National Stroke Association is launching two free online resources that provide easy-to-use, easy-to-access resources for stroke survivors and those who care for them.

iHOPE is a series of Web presentations covering everything from depression to pain to mobility problems that will be available over the next few months. Visit stroke.org/iHOPE  for more info.

Living After Stroke is a group of Web presentations that focuses on the transition to home and the community. New presentations will be available as the project continues over the next four years. Visit stroke.org/living for more info.

Social Media

Since her stroke, the 37-year-old O’Rourke of Canisteo, N.Y., has not only looked to the Internet for information, but has shared her own stories through social media interaction.

”Social media, such as Facebook, became a powerful tool in my stroke recovery,” O’Rourke explains. “This social community allowed me to connect with survivors of all ages from all over the world.”

”These connections are vital as they allow survivors to begin healing emotionally, together,” O’Rourke says. “Our experiences, although interconnected, are uniquely ours,” she explains. “Sharing the uniqueness of our situations allows us all to help each other by providing tips, tricks and strategies for adjusting to the challenges of our new lives.”

As a rehabilitation professional, Richard Zorowitz, M.D., also has found the Internet to be a valuable tool for stroke patients in providing knowledge and education, but strongly cautions users to be mindful of what they find.

”Just because something is out on the Net does not mean its reliable,” Zorowitz stresses. “The stroke survivor and caregivers need to verify the information or products that they find.” Overall, the savvier the user, the better the information they will find. Users should consult with their healthcare providers before adopting practices, exercises or rehabilitation tools found online. In addition, always consider the source when seeking information online. Some to consider include:

  •  National Stroke Association, stroke.org.
  •  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, hhs.gov/  search word stroke.
  • National Aphasia Association, aphasia.org
  • National Dissemination Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities, nichcy.org.
  • Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association, chasa.org.
  • National Family Caregivers Association, nfcacares.org .


For O’Rourke, the Internet has become a gateway to lifelong friendships. “For many survivors these bonds are developing into strong, lasting friendships that carry beyond stroke and into all aspects of their lives,” she says.

How do you use the Internet to cope with your stroke recovery? Send your stories and feedback about Internet use to brainalert@stroke.org.



 

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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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