Archive for category Caregivers

[Guide] LIFE AFTER STROKE Our Path Forward – American Stroke Association


If you are the caregiver, family member or friend of a stroke survivor, your role is vital. You should know the prevention plan and help your loved one to comply with the plan. With a committed health care team and a rehabilitation plan specific to their needs, most stroke survivors can prevent another stroke and thrive.

We hope this guide will help you and your loved ones understand the effects of stroke and how to maximize your rehabilitation and recovery.

Download PDF file

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[NEWS] #SayTheWord ‘Disability,’ Rehab Psychologists Opine


The authors of an editorial published recently in Rehabilitation Psychology challenge a trend toward erasure of the term “disability” in hopes to improve disability cultural competency.

“Attempts to avoid the use of the word ‘disability’ and couch discussions in positive terminology or euphemisms can have unintended consequences,” says Carrie Pilarski, PhD, an assistant professor of clinical psychology in the Michigan Medicine Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, in a media release from Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan.

“Avoiding the term reinforces the idea that disability is a negative or undesired state.”

While the term “disability” is widely used and universally accepted, often there are other terms substituted, such as “differently abled,” “special needs,” and “physically challenged.”

“People use these terms because they see them as accentuating the strengths of people with disabilities,” she adds. “But despite the good intention, these terms are euphemisms that deny recognition of disability as a valued aspect of diversity and identity.”

In the commentary, Pilarski and her co-authors analyze the history of disability language, attitudes around disability language and disability as an identity, to demonstrate why the term “disability” is an important part of disability culture.

While Pilarski notes that avoiding the term “disability” has the unintended consequence of reinforcing ideas that disability is negative, the authors also explain the harmful effects of focusing on individuals with disabilities as inspirational.

“We want readers to understand that there is such a thing as ‘inspiration porn’ and this serves to objectify individuals with disabilities for inspiration,” she shares. “We also discuss balancing using person-first and identity-first language to help support the recognition that disability is an aspect of identity.”

In addition, the authors discuss the role of social media in disability identity and social justices.

“Social media has truly invigorated the disability justice movement,” Pilarski continues, in the release. “There have been many viral hashtags for disability issues, such as #cripthevote, #iamapreexistingcondition and #thisiswhatdisabilitylookslike, that have helped not only with personal identity, but with highlighting the culture and recognizing the history of oppression, especially at a time when disability rights and services are being rolled back on a national level.”

A campaign created to reclaim the term “disability” is #SayTheWord, the authors continue.

“#SayTheWord was created by people with disabilities to claim the term disability as a valued aspect of diversity, support solidarity within the disability community, and encourage those without a disability to stop tiptoeing around the term and use it,” Pilarski says.

“This campaign is very much encouraging disabled people to reclaim our identities, our community and our pride.”

The #SayTheWord movement is also helping to highlight social injustices in the disability community, the authors note, in the commentary.

“We also discuss in the commentary the role of psychology in supporting the understanding of disability as an aspect of diversity with social justice implications similar to other marginalized groups, such as the Black Lives Matter movement and the Me Too movement,” Pilarski comments.

“We’re not trying to make comparisons or to equate experiences when we reference these other groups,” she says. “We’re saying that failure to recognize disability as an aspect of diversity, similar to other marginalized groups, also has unintended consequences of reducing supports available for individuals with disabilities and their formation of a positive disability identity.”

The authors hope their commentary sparks more conversation between the disability community and mainstream media and improves cultural competency.

“Being reflective and understanding the sociopolitical implications of language on disability serves as a call to action for clinicians, educators, and all disability allies to normalize the word ‘disability’ and challenge the stigma associated with it. We should speak out against offensive language and the tendency to replace the word disability with euphemisms or using disability for inspiration,” Pilarski shares.

“Psychologists and other providers or mentors should honor others’ language preference while opening up a dialogue about the underlying attitudes and beliefs that shape their preferred selection of terminology.

“We hope that future research can center on disabled voices in order to support solidarity in the disability community, pride in disability identity and activism for social justice with reclaiming equal access and rights in legislation and policies,” she concludes.

[Source(s): Michigan Medicine – University of Michigan, EurekAlert]

Source: #SayTheWord ‘Disability,’ Rehab Psychologists Opine

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[BLOG POST] The Importance of Having a Support Network After A Brain Injury and What To Do If You Don’t Have One

May 2, 2019,Alphabet Brains

In the early days of brain surgery/brain injury having a support network is such an important thing but what do we do once once the bandage comes off? Once the scar heals to the best of its ability and once we start to look ok to that support network? Well, they get back to living their lives and that’s ok. However, we are now left in this new isolating world where we’re not sure what’s happening to us. A world where we’ll soon come to learn that we now live with life long hidden problems.

If you’re one of those people that has a support network after the early days you may still struggle with the feeling of isolation and that’s ok. Brain injury is such a traumatic thing to happen and can change you in such a way that you do see the world as if you’re the only one that understands what you’re going through.

I feel that you don’t truly understand a brain injury until you have one. 

In this blog post I’d like to share some advice on support networks, the different kinds and what to do if you don’t have one.

Asking for a support network

(I live in England so I’m not sure how it works in other countries, but you can browse some Useful Links that I’ve found)

Go to your GP and ask to be referred to a local Brain Injury centre or a neuropsychiatrist. You have to say neuropsychiatrist because they’re very different to a psychiatrist, neuropsychiatrists know a lot about brain injury and the emotional side effects. They’ll give you coping mechanisms, teach you about the part of your brain that you’ve damaged and the knock on effect that’s had on you.

Headway Groups

In England, Headway are very good. They have a variety of groups you can go to and you’ll get to meet other people with a brain injury. Find your local one here, you just have to enter your postcode, contact the one closest to you and they’ll arrange to meet you so they can learn more about you and your needs.

Friends and Family as a support network

Having friends and family as a support network can be isolating, depending on how much you see them, how much they really know about your brain injury and it can also depend on just how busy they are with their own lives. Try to update them as much as you can, it’ll let them know how you are and make you feel less alone. From my experience though, I suggest getting professional help if you can. Having an outsider is always better because you have someone who knows about brain injury, someone you can say anything to without fear of being judged, someone who can give you practical advice and coping skills with day-to-day life.

I have one friend that truly understands brain injury because he also has a brain injury, but we’re not friends because of our brain injury. (Be careful with that, don’t just be friends with someone because they have a brain injury, it’s not a healthy relationship) We’re friends because we have things in common, the same sense of humour and can talk for hours. We became friends because of our situation; we both work at Headway Glasgow, we both have brain injuries and on a work night out we bonded over the dark humour surrounding our injuries. Because you have to laugh. The others who were with us didn’t seem to think it was funny, but they don’t have a brain injury… So, sometimes having a support network is having a friend that has a brain injury, but make sure you get on with them outside of your brain injury as well. That’s what we did and now we don’t talk much about our brain injuries, we can if we need to but we both know that professional help is much better, especially after not having any for so long.

The little things

Having a support network doesn’t have to big things like the things I’ve mentioned above because you might not need something big right now or even ever.

It can be little things such as having people in your life that:

  • Understand you need a quiet table when you go out.
  • Will listen to you when you need to talk.
  • Will ask how you are.
  • Support your passions and hobbies, because that improves your mood.

What and how is your support network doing? Let me know by commenting below, tweeting me, visiting me on instagram or visit the facebook page.

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[FREE App] Google Live Transcribe (Android): Transcribe What Anyone Is Saying – Video

Android Accessibility: Live Transcribe

Google Live Transcribe is an accessibility tool meant to make life easier for those who are deaf or hard of hearing. It automatically turns any speech into text while the person is still speaking. It’s fast enough to be used in conversations.

Android Accessibility: Live Transcribe

The text can be a black font on a white background or a white font on a black background. The top-right corner indicates whether the environment is noisy, which means people have to speak louder to be heard. And if someone speaks to you from behind, the phone vibrates to let you know. Try it out, it works surprisingly smoothly.

The app uses Google’s Cloud Speech API, so it requires an active internet connection. Google says it doesn’t store any audio on its servers, but we’d take such proclamations with a pinch of salt. Google already knows a lot about you, and they do share data with authorities.

Download: Google Live Transcribe for Android (Free)

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[WEB SITE] How to Help Patients in Wheelchairs Express Their Personal Style – Rehab Managment

Published on 


By Rae Steinbach

A physical therapist doesn’t merely help someone recover from an injury or accident by improving their mobility. Physical therapists also pay attention to the emotional experiences of those with whom they work.

For instance, people who have recently begun to use wheelchairs often struggle with depression. Their inability to live a fully independent life can result in negative self-talk. Ideally, a physical therapist working with such a patient would notice their mood and identify ways to provide support.

Marla Ranieri of BetterPT further emphasizes this point, sharing that, “Being able to integrate a person back to their community and social activities physically and mentally is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a physical therapist. We provide them the tools they need to enjoy life again.”

Offering fashion tips such as these is one way they can help. Liking what they see in the mirror can help those in wheelchairs start to feel more confident in themselves and their appearance. The problem is, a person who isn’t accustomed to using a wheelchair may struggle to dress well if this experience is new to them.

That doesn’t need to be the case. If you’re a physical therapist working with patients in wheelchairs, help them be more fashionable by offering this key advice:

Wear a Stylish Belt

Long dresses or jackets that look impressive when a person wearing them is standing can get bunched up when a person is sitting down. Luckily, someone in a wheelchair can still enjoy these types of garments. They simply need to add a belt or waistband to the outfit. This smooths out tops and creates a more tailored look.

Choose Form-Fitting Clothing

Again, wheelchair users can wear longer dresses and jackets if they wish. It may even be advisable. Longer tops create the illusion of a longer torso.

That said, wheelchair users need to make sure their tops aren’t too loose. Too much fabric will look boxy when the person wearing such garments is seated. It’s smarter to choose form-fitting clothing. Additionally, excess fabric can get caught in wheelchair components, making it difficult for a person to easily use their wheelchair.

Display Your Shoulders

Dressing to impress is a lot easier for wheelchair users than some may realize. It’s often as simple as wearing a shoulder-baring top. This is a subtle but effective way to make an outfit a bit more daring.

Don’t Overlook Accessories

Learning how to adjust your personal style appropriately if you’ve recently begun using a wheelchair is a process. Although the advice you give patients will help, there are still likely to be instances when they’re not happy with the way a certain outfit looks.

Encourage them to accessorize when this happens. Adding the right accessories can transform a dull outfit into something much more remarkable. Consider recommending a summer subscription box or one that coincides with the approaching season. That way, your patient is sure to have new accessories and styling pieces that excite them throughout the year.

Again, these are important points for physical therapists to keep in mind. You have the chance to help people in wheelchairs feel much more confident. Providing this type of advice will help.

Rae Steinbach is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing for Jetty.


via How to Help Patients in Wheelchairs Express Their Personal Style – Rehab Managment

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[WEB SITE] The Comparison Trap | BrainLine

The Comparison Trap Caregiving After Brain Injury, Norma Myers

We can all relate to being guilty of spinning around in the dizzying comparison trap. Whether it’s love, family, career, financial, fashion, weight or cosmetic, somewhere along the line, we have compared ourselves to others. With the presence of social media, this trap has become even more intrusive.

From the moment we received the life-changing news of Aaron and Steven’s car accident, the comparison trap began. Aaron didn’t survive the accident that left Steven with a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). While the comparison trap from the loss of Aaron would set in later, it immediately bombarded us during Steven’s recovery.

Of all comparisons we thought we would face as parents, nothing prepared our ears to absorb the speech that began: don’t compare your child’s TBI progress to another survivor. A wonderful physician, who is now a friend, spoke those words to us. He then proceeded to inform us, “In a line-up of 10 TBI survivors, you would witness 10 different outcomes.” I did not want my son in a TBI line up or any part of the TBI community. All I wanted was to be able to turn back the calendar to August 13, 2012, and plan a totally different Sunday for our intact family of 4, a day close to home, together.

During Steven’s roller-coaster recovery, we were reminded often, felt like hourly, that with the severity of Steven’s injuries the recovery road was long, we should not get our hopes up. Really? Telling parents not to get their hopes up about their child’s survival was the same as telling us not to take our next breath! Of course, we were going to hope, pray, and never give up.

We admit, despite celebrating Steven’s recovery, we did fall into the dismal comparison trap.

Why is Steven’s rehab roommate already walking?

His accident was as severe as Steven’s; how did he escape a craniectomy and the helmet?

How did she escape the epilepsy curse?

These comparisons led me to wonder if I tapped into all available resources for Steven’s recovery?

As shock eventually lifted, we realize that some of our justifications for comparing were due to our lack of knowledge about TBI. How could we not compare? And while we have heard every lecture on not asking why, it’s human nature to ask, “Why?”

As my heart began to absorb the reality of Aaron’s death, I was faced with new comparisons. When it comes to Aaron’s life, it’s not all about comparisons; it’s more about mynatural mom instinct wondering what Aaron’s life would look like today, a mother’s shattered heart longing for what should have been.

Would Aaron be married?

Would we be grandparents?

Where would Aaron be in his career?

What would Aaron’s big trophy be this hunting season?

While I acknowledge that people mean well, and do not know what to say, the comparison that continues to leave me speechless is comparing child loss to losing a parent or a grandparent. Trust me, I have also experienced those deep losses, but it’s unequivocally not the same, it’s just not.

Lessons I learned from comparing

  • Seek connection, not comparisons. It’s most rewarding to spend time with those that nourish relationships, with those who see the real you.
  • By focusing on the good things in my life, I’m less likely to obsess about what I lack.
  • Comparisons can be never-ending and exhausting. The temptation to compare is as near as my next chat with a friend, a trip to the store, or check-in on social media. I must not get lost in others’ lives and forget to enjoy my own.
  • By shifting my focus, a comparison can turn into inspiration. Being inspired and learning from others can create happiness instead of misery.
  • When life is lived intentionally and thoughtfully, the comparison game becomes less attractive.
  • If I waste time comparing myself to others, I will rob myself of gratitude, joy, and fulfillment.
  • Even when it feels impossible, dig deep, find the courage to celebrate who you are, underneath the messiest of messes, there’s much to celebrate, we are each entirely unique.

When I find myself being drawn in as a pawn in the comparison game, I don’t beat myself up, I just say no! I refuse to stay in the game. After all, it’s not about comparisons, it’s about living for the ones I love and for those that need and love me. Instead of evaluating those in my life; past and present, I will celebrate them. I refuse to get lost in others idealizedlives, I will focus on being grateful for my life; right here, right now; a priceless lesson that Aaron taught me and one that I and the two men in my life attempt to remind each other of daily.


via The Comparison Trap | BrainLine

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[BLOG POST] Is Ikea’s New Project That Makes Its Existing Products Accessible

image shows 9 different low tech accessibility products that work with existing ikea products. these are: glass bumper, mega switch, easy handle, insider, pop up handle, couch lift, friendly zipper, curtain zipper, cane by me.

In order to help people with disabilities use its products much more comfortably and independently, and to foray into inclusion, Ikea recently launched the “ThisAbles” project that includes a line of low tech assistive technology devices that bridges gaps between existing Ikea products and the needs of people with disabilities. These products, like the Mega Switch that can be used to turn on and off a lamp without the need for precise use of fingers, can be easily printed by consumers on a 3D printer at their own convenience. There are 13 such products available that cater to people with disabilities related to vision, mobility and hand functions.

Visit for more information and to learn about these new developments as well as existing products suitable for people with disabilities.

Make sure to watch these quick videos to see some of the products in action.

via Is Ikea’s New Project That Makes Its Existing Products Accessible – Assistive Technology Blog

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[WEB SITE] Disability and sex: let’s be frank about sex toys

Disability and sex: let’s be frank about sex toys

Disabled people use sex toys for the same reasons as anyone else: for pleasure, variety, sexual experimentation, kinky sex… the list goes on. But some disabled people also use them to assist with sexual difficulties or physical, mental or sensory impairments.

Sex isn’t always straight forward for anyone, and it certainly isn’t like in the movies. But sex can be just as mind blowing with the right assistance. I’m talking sex toys – dildos, vibrators, butt plugs, love eggs, strap ons… I could go on.

Disabled people often use equipment to help with everyday things, like a grip to hold a cup or hoist to lift them from a chair to bed, and the idea of useful aids carries on into the bedroom. Just because you can’t do certain things, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy sex. For example…

Men who cannot achieve an erection may use a strap-on dildo in its place, or strap it to their thigh, so that their partner can sit on it and play with their penis at the same time.

Men who can’t orgasm from penile stimulation, maybe because they have spina bifida can use a prostate stimulator to orgasm.

Women who cannot reach down between their legs to masturbate may use a Magic Wand, which has a long handle, to stimulate the clitoris.

Women with spinal injuries and others with neurological impairments may not lubricate naturally, so need lubricants in an accessible container.

Blind and visually impaired people may use audio erotica to excite them.

People who cannot move and want to pleasure their partners may be able to hold toys on them – vibrators or electrostim gadgets, to provide stimulation. People with arthritis or that have difficulty getting into the right positions for sexual interactions, might use sex swings or supports to make it easier for them.

People with spinal injury use strong vibrators such as Ferticare to have orgasms.

Some people with learning difficulties need toys to assist their stimulation to make it easier.

Masturbation to reach the big O

But the most pressing reason of all why some disabled people need sex toys is that they are unable to masturbate to orgasm, maybe because they have short arms, their hands get tired and weak, or they cannot move their arms.

Women are lucky that no-hands toys like the butterfly and vibrating panties can get them off. Some may have partners who will toss them off or go down on them. Some single people have the knack of persuading people they know, or meet, to lend them a hand, and this skill comes from building up enough confidence to be brave enough to ask in a relaxed, good humoured way.

Others have PAs or care staff willing to put a vibrator on their clitoris or masturbator on their penis, secure it in place, maybe even turn it on, and leave the room, coming back later to clear up and put the toy away.

All this shows that there are many ways to still enjoy sex and orgasms, even if you have a disability. But there are issues with some sex toys.

Sex toys are usually secured by tucking them into tight pants — which is totally unsatisfactory. Not only are they sometimes just shy of the right spot, but there is a chance it will dislodge itself and fly across the room just before orgasm is reached. However, I have invented a solution – Happy Harnesses.

Happy harnesses are bespoke harnesses that will fit to the wearer and hold the required sex toy, meaning the sex toy is not only in the right place, but it will also stay firmly in place.

Unfortunately, it’s currently only in the design stage as I haven’t been able to find anyone to actually create such harnesses — they cannot just be manufactured as they need to be made to measure to accommodate the required toy. Plus, as it’s such an intimate necessity, it would be nice if it were customised.

But think of this: a guy living in a residential home, with a night-time raging hard on, or a woman who wakes with a sudden horniness — they cannot just ring a bell in the middle of the night and expect immediate assistance. They just have to lie there and think of England, letting the desire subside. If this goes on every night and often in the daytime too, it’s extremely bad for their mental health. I want to change this so that everyone can experience sex toys at their desire.

Sex toys have come a long way

A few decades ago, when I attended the first ever sex toy fair in Frankfurt, all the people in the trade were gangsters. A manufacturer said to me: “Tuppy, I want you to see my new life-like toy. Poke your finger to the end and you will feel the clitoris”. I sighed and muttered; “that’s where the cervix is, the clitoris is not inside the vagina, but in front of it.” The sex trade was dire: sex toys were shabby, ugly, split and smelt of rotting cabbage.

My boyfriend said of Jacqueline Gold, owner of Ann Summers; “even their condoms are tight­” – they were made in the East where cocks tend to be smaller, but condoms cheap to buy.

Slowly, the gangsters moved out of the trade and the business men took over. I’m not sure who was worse. At the last sex toy fair I went to in Berlin, on a research trip for Spokz several years ago, my friend, Shiri Zinn, spent most of her time covering up her beautiful porcelain and exquisite fluffy toys on her stand to prevent people from taking photos.

It’s only in the last couple of years that designers and people with any sense of morality, intelligence or pride have entered the business.

And a couple of months ago, quite amazingly, I made a breakthrough. I was quoted in the sex toy trade journal, Erotic Trade Only, as saying; “I think disabled people who cannot masturbate are better off having hand jobs because none of the sex toys are much good for them,” also mentioning my frustration with Happy Harnesses.

A week later a letter arrived in the post from a design company saying I had really got them thinking. I phoned them up and learnt that they too want to create a sex toy that disabled people can use independently, with no, or as little as possible, need for support from anyone else. They recognised the need for spontaneity and privacy, and had been thinking along the lines of how people with no arms or arm movement can paint beautifully artistic paintings using their mouth or feet. I was over the moon.

So, in our bid to work together on this project, I pledged to ask all the disabled people I know who are unable to masturbate to tell us exactly what they might be able to use to operate a sex toy. I’d be thrilled if as many people as possible could get in touch to let me know what they think – I want to make this the best possible sex toy to suit everyone’s needs. You can email me at, or call on 07770 884985.

Sex toys available now!

And in case you want some other recommendations, here are some of the toys currently out on the market which I have recommended in my book on sex and disability, to be published by Jessica Kingsley later this year:

The Humpus
The Fleshlight (one version with a suction pad)
Rends A10 Cyclone
Butterfly vibrators
Vibrating panties
Venus 2000
The Sybian
Hitachi Magic Wand — look online for European imitations.
Liberator — manufacturer of support equipment
Silver Sex — furniture for people with arthritis
Literotica — audio erotica

Spokz stock sex toys for disabled people in the UK

Kinsters Paradise will adapt and create accesible toys, gadgets and furniture

TLC — the website for disabled people to access responsible sex workers and strippers

The Hold It —  a great gadget for people unable to hold books and ipads to read or write. They don’t have a clamp for sex toys but such a clamp could be attached

And do come along to the 2014 Outsiders Jamboree on Monday 21st July, noon till 6pm. The venue is The Lighthouse, 111 Lancaster Road, London W11 1QT.

The event is free of charge and features Tableau Vivantes, performances by the incredible Mouse, Mat Fraser, David Young and Jamie Willmott, with discussions, loads of networking and fun.

I hope to see you there!

By Tuppy Owens

via Disability and sex: let’s be frank about sex toys

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[THESIS] ReWork-Stroke : content and experiences of a person-centred rehabilitation programme for return to work after stroke – Full Text


The process of return to work (RTW) after stroke is complex, less than half of those having stroke in working ages RTW. Guidelines targeting RTW in Sweden is lacking.

The overall aim was to enhance the knowledge regarding rehabilitation for return to work after stroke and to explore how the person-centred rehabilitation programme ReWork-Stroke was translated into practice, for people who worked before their stroke, as well as the experiences of the involved stakeholders. Additionally, the aim was to explore changes in work potential and work performance while participating in the rehabilitation programme.

Methods: Study I used a descriptive case study design to explore and describe the core elements of the ReWork-Stroke programme as they were documented by the coordinators, and their experiences of providing the programme to people who had had a stroke. The two interviews with the coordinators and their logbooks were analysed using content analysis. Study II applied a grounded theory approach in order to explore and describe how people that had had a stroke experienced the RTW process while participating in a person-centred rehabilitation programme focusing on RTW. Seven persons with mild or moderate stroke were interviewed twice at their work place during their work-trial. Study III was inspired by grounded theory aiming to explore and describe how co-workers and managers experienced the RTW process involving a colleague who had had stroke and participated in a person-centred rehabilitation programme focusing on RTW including a work-trial. Sixteen interviews were conducted with seven co-workers and four managers during the work-trial of a colleague who had had stroke. Study IV used a mixed method approach with an explanatory sequential design in order to explore changes in work potential and work performance while participating in a person-centred rehabilitation programme for people who worked before their stroke.

Results: Time use, place and format for elements in the programme varied between clients. Core elements identified were: make aware of consequences of stroke; provide information to stakeholders; use of strategies to handle work tasks; assessments, goalsetting and evaluation of work ability; planning/follow up of work trial. The coordinators experienced their role to build an alliance between stakeholders and to give support and guidance during the RTW process. Knowledge of stroke, strategies and a straightforward communication facilitated the possibility to adapt to the situation for the persons that had had stroke. The co-workers and managers experienced various challenges; the emotional challenge of being a supportive co-worker or manager, the challenging experience of having too much responsibility and the challenge of being supportive despite lack of knowledge. Changes in work potential and work performance varied among the participants and were mostly in a positive direction. Various strategies were used by the coordinators in cooperation with those involved at the work place to handle the different needs.

Conclusion: The ReWork-Stroke programme included various elements adapted to the needs of the individuals. The involvement of the coordinator seemed to facilitate the RTW process and collaboration among the different stakeholders. Establishing a commitment between the employer and all involved stakeholders was of importance.


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via ReWork-Stroke : content and experiences of a person-centred rehabilitation programme for return to work after stroke

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[WEB SITE] Disability and fashion: the holy grail of a fashgasm

Disability and fashion: the holy grail of a fashgasm

We’ve all stared longingly at the glossy, perfect images in fashion magazines and wished we could look that stylish. But for us average Joes, and especially if you have a disability, the fashion industry doesn’t always cater for all shapes and sizes…

I’ll assume we are all friends here so I’ll just ask what’s been on my mind all morning – have any of you ever had a Fashgasm? I wasn’t sure this actually existed, but after a quick Google search it would appear that people are having them all over the place!

I woke up this morning to the sound of cellophane being pushed and rustled through my letterbox – my latest issue of Vanity Fair magazine had arrived. Now I’m sure most people are aware of the subject matter of this magazine, but those of you who don’t, I shall elaborate. Vanity Fair is a high-end fashion magazine that blends articles of culture, business and style with an acute awareness of the ebbs and flows of the modern world.

Mix all this with an array of advertisement delights aiming the spotlight towards designer fashion that would lead to most couture conscious ladies to have what I have decided to call a Fashgasm (I’ll let you decipher what that means!). But I promise you I read it for the articles… I just haven’t gotten round to reading them yet!

Now I’m sure most people allow their minds to wander into a fantasy land picturing the endless possibilities life could offer if only we could own the dresses and shoes and have the flawless skin being offered to us on that glossy A4 plate. However, it was during this cerebral escapism that I realised: the food source upon the aforementioned plate is most definitely the stuff of dreams. It just won’t come true, which is maybe the shared reality of many a person who has a disability just as I do.

I am 27 years old and have a neuro muscular condition called Spinal Muscular Atrophy, which means my frame is extremely skinny due to muscles wasting, I have a severe curvature of the spine and I use a wheelchair for mobility.

The nature of my disability has made it near impossible to find fashionable clothes that I both like and that are comfortable enough to accommodate sitting down for long periods of time and do not irritate the skin by means of creases, buttons or ruffles of fabrics.

Catwalk models in wheelchairs 


Before writing this article I conducted research into websites that claim to offer adapted clothing for people with disabilities. I have to say that my findings were uninspiring to put it politely! Unless I want to dress like a granny from the Shreddies advert, or suddenly develop an overwhelming desire to wear buttoned underwear, then I am basically screwed!

This then leads me to the high street. I tend to try to keep it simple – I say try – I HAVE to keep it simple because the type of clothes I’d love to buy just aren’t available in my size. For someone who is often reduced to ordering kids sizes in clothes, I want it to be well known that I don’t want to wear giant cat’s faces or One Direction across my tops. It just doesn’t float my boat!

Then changing the subject completely, it proves almost as difficult to find nice underwear that fits and doesn’t look as boring as watching paint dry. I have never been able to find fancy, feminine underwear to fit my frame, however, on the bright side I will never need the use of a pair of Bridget Jones either. I will have to weigh up the pros and cons of this problem carefully and get back to you.

Like I said, simplicity seems to be my only option. I have been told that I have a trademark look of jeans and vest top, which is very often accompanied by a black mesh top underneath. It might not make the feature pages of Vanity Fair, but it works for me. And if I could give you one piece of advice it would be to invest in a pair of jeans that you love and, most importantly, find comfortable.

I should probably point out that the mesh top stems from a Goth phase that has never quite left me – and probably never will much to the amusement of friends and family alike.

There is probably an entire article in the difficulty of trying to buy clothes associated with different sub cultures, but there is not enough room here to include that full rant. And for those of you wondering how someone can be simultaneously interested in Vanity Fair and the Goth sub-culture I say; don’t question it, I just live it.

But anyway, I digress. I still find it hard to believe that the fashion industry has yet to cater for people with disabilities in a time when Danielle Sheypuk is the first disabled model to roll down the catwalk at designer Carrie Hammer’s fashion show at New York Fashion Week in 2014. I hope that the problems we face will soon be eradicated and that one day the pages of my Vanity Fair will reflect these changes.

By Hayleigh Barclay


via Disability and fashion: the holy grail of a fashgasm | Disability Horizons

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