Safety after Stroke

Moving around safely and easily is not something you may think about, until you have had a stroke. Many areas of your life will be impacted and adaptations will need to be made to be safer. For example your home can be safer by modifying your home environment to prevent accidents as you move around the house or apartment. There are many different ways to accommodate your life after stroke that will depend on your strength, ability, judgment, and support.

Each year more than 795,000 people in the United States experience strokes. Statistics show that 40 percent of all stroke survivors have serious falls within a year after their stroke. Questions often arise about what life changes to expect. Being safer can allow you to gain control and independence in everyday living situations.
Stroke affects each survivor differently. Depending of the type of stroke they endured, the level of injury to the brain, and the person’s overall health, can impact the recovery of a person. Conditions like weakness, paralysis, problems with balance or coordination, pain or numbness, problems with memory or thinking, tiredness, and problems with bladder or bowel control can all change the way a person will function in their home.
Managing life after stroke may make some stroke survivors and caregivers uneasy. Consider arranging for an occupational therapist (OT), trained to help you manage daily activities and regain your independence, to visit your home before discharge to help you prepare a safer home environment.

The following tips can help you avoid further injury to yourself or others and support recovery.

Lifestyle Safety
  • Strengthening leg muscles and balance through exercise
  • Wearing flat, wide-toed shoes
  • Eating calcium-rich foods and taking calcium supplements to increase bone strength if necessary
  • Following your therapists’ recommendations about limitations and walking needs
  • Not relying on furniture for support while walking. Use assistive devices prescribed by your therapist
  • Recognizing that certain medicines may make you drowsy and taking precautions
  • Limiting walking when distracted
  • Never walking without prescribed aids such as braces or canes
Home Safety
  • Clear paths to the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom
  • Wear nonskid shoes and avoid slick surfaces
  • Remove loose carpets and runners in hallways and stairwells, or fasten them with nonskid tape to improve traction
  • Install handrails for support in going up and down stairs
Safety Devices
Sometimes it may be necessary to install assistive and safety devices in your home to make it easier and safer for you to get around.  Some examples include:
  • Raised toilet seat
  • Tub bench
  • Handled shower head
  • Plastic strips that adhere to the bottom of a tub or shower
  • Long-handled brushes and washing mitts with pockets for soap
  • Electric toothbrushes and razors

And most importantly, be on the safe side and don’t take chances. Listen to the advice of healthcare professionals and experienced caregivers. Regaining independence requires patience.