Becoming independent after stroke: strategies for survivors and health workers.

So as health professionals we want to support stroke survivors to live their best life possible right? As humans we care, we are generally compassionate toward others and want to support an individual through their stroke to live with ease and to live with as much discomfort as possible, right? This will make their recovery and transition back into the real world quicker and streamlined. They will live a life with more freedom, independence and dignity, right?
Well as a stroke survivor of 31 years now and a professional in the area of vocation care, disability right, advocacy and inclusion. Also having experienced many OT’s and physio’s flow in and out of my life during the last 31 years  (since my stroke), I feel sympathetic to this topic.
Well I think and feel differently to the above remarks and see new and more efficient ways for developing independence, dignity and freedom in the stroke survivor. Ok here is the good news IT’s EASY! Here’s the bad news, you have been doing it all wrong and need to change your thinking. YES, sorry for the kick in the guts but that’s all, now here’s the sweet spot the answer to all!
How do you change your thinking?

If the person can only use one arm; Switch your thinking to think as a one armed person. DO NOT provide solutions to one handed activities with a two handed perspective and method.
If the patient cannot use their legs; Sit in a wheel chair and ignore your legs for an hour. Feel what it likes to not feel them.  What does it feel like to be isolated in your own home?  Appreciate what it’s like to fall over when you lose your balance.
Then develop constructive alternate tools for doing daily living skills. So that the patient may live a life of dignity, independence and happiness.  Life skills must be developed on a holistic level. Rather than the traditional methods that limit a consumers ability to thrive beyond the rehab. stage.

Holistic rehabilitation means incorporating not only the patient’s physical disabilities and abilities. Include their emotional ability and their willingness to change. Is their family a positive or negative support. Incorporate all these factors into awesome interplay of physical aides or activities that support the consumer long term to grow and maintain a healthy well- being. The long term primary aim for the consumer is to be independent. The short term primary aim is educate, support, give hope and skills.
This article may raise a few eyebrows and get a few tempers flaring, however it is an honest and frank reflection of how simple change can make a big difference. Yes, mindsets may need shifting and work restructuring, and new learning to take place. However in such an ever changing world, a new platform of innovative rehabilitation is worth exploring.

Kate Ryan is a stroke thriver who provides key note speaking and training in your workplace. Please take a look at her website for more information and contact

Facebook page “Stroke Thrivers” or

You can find my book filled with one handed ideas for life

BOOK: ‘Beyond Stroke: Living Independently with One Arm’ at

Kate’s you tube channel has videos logically showing how to do daily tasks with one hand, such as tying shoelaces or opening a jar with one hand.

You Tube Search: ‘Kate Ryan Stroke’ or

 Become a Stroke Thriver too!

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