I started this blog a few years ago and the aims were to try to document my recovery, but also to raise awareness of stroke and help other stroke survivors. One important page in the blog/website is called ‘Handy Hints’.
Lots of stroke survivors - including me - have loss of functionality in one side of the body, so people need to adapt to this reality after the stroke and try to have a more independent life with one functional hand. It may be hard to swallow for lots of people, but sometimes, unfortunately, it is not a choice.
I was right-handed pre-stroke, so lots of tasks were more difficult to accomplish because I had to train my brain to write, type, drive, get dressed, hold my son safely, kick the footy - basically anything - using my left side. Although it is difficult, I feel it is an amazing opportunity to improve my unaffected left side. In fact, I am amazed how the brain can remember after a little bit of training (or re-training). Writing left-handed, tying up my shoelaces, putting in contact lenses, bowling left-handed for cricket and even reverse-park with one-hand are lots of examples of my brain rewiring and acquiring new skills.
Fortunately, I feel I am still improving - in general - however I have a non-functional right hand, but I have little bit of strength and movement with my fingers and hand, so I can use two hands on different tasks. I can grip using my right hand and small hold objects, like opening jars, opening and closing screws with a screwdriver, opening my fridge, shopping trolleys [at the supermarket], our pram, my trike, my son’s cricket bat, gym weights etc.
The way I do it is I use my affected hand to hold the objects first, and then use my dominant hand to grip and complete the tasks. Some tasks are not necessary to use both hands because I am pretty used to using one hand, however, I consciously try to use my right hand for anything because it is very good and functional therapy. Occupational Therapy is excellent to improve hand function using neuroplasticity concepts using repetition, repetition and repetition.
One-hand independent living is sometimes challenging, but there is a lot of resources and information available now and also lots of independent living centres/shops (and online), so hopefully my handy hints will be beneficial for other people. I am definitely not reinventing the wheel because my ideas are not unique - there is a good chance my ideas are available with other OTs, organisations, books, websites, social groups etc. But if you read this post and think about different ways to do something, I think I will be happy and satisfied because I will change people's lives for the better.
This page was always there in the beginning of the blog - including a few videos and small text of information - however I struggled to promote previously, so I will try to shoot more videos, and more information on the blog, social media and promote it to the stroke community.
I remember my year 12 accounting teacher Mr. Read - a very funny charismatic man - constantly always said ‘sharing is caring’, so I am using this advice for my blog because I strongly agree with Mr. Read’s sentiments and I am keen to share my ideas with others.
At the end of the day, most stroke survivors have similar goals - trying to be happy and striving to be more independent. With finding ideas, training, guidance and acting on it, people can have better lives, so look out for more handy hints very soon.
All the best