Posts Tagged saebo

[BLOG POST] Driving After Stroke: Is it Safe? -Saebo

After having a stroke, many survivors are eager to start driving again. Driving offers independence and the ability to go where you want to go on your own schedule, so it is no surprise that survivors want to get back behind the wheel rather than rely on someone else for their transportation needs.

Unfortunately, having a stroke can have lasting effects that make driving more difficult. A survivor might not be aware of all of the effects of their stroke and could misjudge their ability to drive safely. Driving against a doctor’s orders after a stroke is not only dangerous, it may even be illegal. Many stroke survivors successfully regain their ability to safely drive after a stroke, but it is important that they do not attempt to drive until they are cleared by their healthcare provider.


How Stroke Affects the Ability to Drive

Having a stroke can affect an individual’s ability to drive in numerous ways, whether it be because of physical challenges, cognitive changes, or other challenges.


Physical Challenges


After a stroke, it’s common to experience weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, depending on which side of the brain the stroke occurred. More than half of all stroke survivors also experience post-stroke pain. Minor physical challenges may be overcome with adaptive driving equipment, but severe challenges like paralysis or contracture can seriously affect an individual’s ability to drive.


Cognitive Effects


Driving requires a combination of cognitive skills, including memory, concentration, problem solving, judgement, multitasking, and the ability to make quick decisions. A stroke can cause cognitive changes that limit the ability to do many of those things.


Vision Problems


As many as two-thirds of stroke victims experience vision impairments as a result of a stroke. This can include vision loss, blurred vision, and visual processing problems. Stroke survivors with vision problems should not drive until their problems are resolved and they have been cleared by a doctor.




Fatigue is a common physical condition after a stroke that affects between 40 and 70 percent of stroke survivors. Fatigue can arrive without warning, so it is dangerous to drive when suffering from post-stroke fatigue.


Warning Signs of Unsafe Driving


Stroke survivors are not always aware of how their stroke has limited their ability to drive. If they are choosing to drive after their stroke against their doctor’s advice, it is important for them and their loved ones to look out for warning signs that they might not be ready to start driving. Here are some of the common warning signs to look out for:

  • Driving faster or slower than the posted speed or the wrong speed for the current driving conditions
  • Consistently asking for instruction and help from passengers
  • Ignoring posted signs or signals
  • Making slow or poor decisions
  • Becoming easily frustrated or confused
  • Getting lost in familiar areas
  • Being in an accident or having close calls
  • Drifting into other lanes


If you or your loved one is showing any of these warning signs, immediately stop yourself or them from driving until your or their driving is tested.


Driving Again After a Stroke

Before a stroke survivor begins driving again, they should speak with their doctor or therapist to discuss whether or not it would be safe for them to continue driving. Many states require mandatory reporting by a physician to the DMV if their patient has impairments that may affect their driving after a stroke. Even if their doctor clears them to drive, they still will likely need to be evaluated by the DMV before they regain their driving privileges.


Driver rehabilitation specialists are available to help stroke survivors evaluate their driving ability from behind the wheel. There are also driver’s training programs that provide a driving evaluation, classroom instruction, and suggestions for modifying a car to the individual driver’s needs. For instance, an occupational therapist can provide a comprehensive in-clinic evaluation of a client’s current skills and deficits relative to driving.


From there a client could be sent for an in-vehicle assessment for further evaluation by a certified driver rehabilitation specialist (CDRS). They can assess driving skills in a controlled and safe environment. An in-vehicle driving test is the most thorough way to gauge a driver’s abilities. Each assessment takes about 1 hour and involves driving with a trained evaluator or driving in a computer simulator.


The “behind-the-wheel” evaluation will include testing for changes in key performance areas such as attention, memory, vision, reaction time, and coordination. After this assessment the CDRS can determine if the client is safe to drive, can not drive at all, or may drive with additional recommendations.


Often times clients may require certain modifications to their car in order to drive safely. In addition, some clients may benefit from on-going classroom training and simulation training in order to meet safety standards. These are all services that a driver rehabilitation specialist can provide. To help find these resources, The Association for Driver Rehabilitation Specialists has a directory of certified driver rehabilitation specialists, driver rehabilitation specialists, and mobility equipment dealers and manufacturers.


Get Back Behind the Wheel

Many stroke survivors successfully drive after a stroke; however, not all are able to. While reclaiming independence is important, staying safe is the greatest concern. It is important for stroke survivors to listen to their doctors and wait until they are fully ready before attempting to drive again. With some hard work and patience, getting back behind the wheel is possible.


All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by the Saebo website is solely at your own risk.

Source: Driving After Stroke: Is it Safe? | Saebo

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[WEB SITE] What Is Spasticity – Saebo

What is Spasticity?

Spasticity is a neuromuscular condition usually caused by damage to the portion of the brain or spinal cord that controls voluntary movement. The damage causes a change in the balance of signals between the nervous system and the muscles. It is typically found in people with cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injury.

Charley horse is an understatement.

Spasticity is often described as tight, stiff muscles or spasms that may make movement, posture, and balance difficult. It negatively affects muscles and joints of the extremities, and is particularly harmful to growing children. Individuals with mild spasticity may experience muscle tightness whereas severe spasticity may produce painful, uncontrollable spasms of the extremities; most commonly the legs and arms. This can interfere with functional recovery and curtail rehabilitation efforts.

Unintended consequences.

Spasticity can be disabling and if left untreated, or sub-optimally managed, it may lead to adverse effects such as:

  • Contractures
  • Muscle and joint deformitiesv
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Chronic constipation
  • Fever or other systemic illnesses
  • Pressure sores
  • Overactive reflexes
  • Pain
  • Decreased functional abilities and delayed motor development
  • Difficulty with care and hygiene
  • Abnormal posture
  • Bone and joint deformities

Loosening the grip.

Common treatment interventions for spasticity vary from conservative (therapy) to more aggressive (surgery). Typically, a variety of treatment options are used simultaneously to maximize results. Current spasticity treatment options may include the following:

  • Oral medications
  • Injectable medications
  • Stretching
  • Orthoses
  • Casting
  • Electrotherapeutics
  • Cryotherapy
  • Surgery

Source: What Is Spasticity | Saebo


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[WEB SITE] Stroke Recovery Exercises for Your Whole Body – Saebo

Stroke survival rates have improved a lot over the last few years. Stroke was once the third leading cause of death in the United States, but it fell to fourth place in 2008 and fifth place in 2013. Today, strokes claim an average of 129,000 American lives every year. Reducing stroke deaths in America is a great improvement, but we still have a long way to go in improving the lives of stroke survivors.

Stagnant recovery rates and low quality of life for stroke survivors are unfortunately very common. Just 10% of stroke survivors make a full recovery. Only 25% of all survivors recover with minor impairments. Nearly half of all stroke survivors continue to live with serious impairments requiring special care, and 10% of survivors live in nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, and other long-term healthcare facilities. It’s easy to see why stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. By 2030, it’s estimated that there could be up to 11 million stroke survivors in the country.

Traditionally, stroke rehabilitation in America leaves much to be desired in terms of recovery and quality of life. There is a serious gap between stroke patients being discharged and transitioning to physical recovery programs. In an effort to improve recovery and quality of life, the American Heart Association has urged the healthcare community to prioritize exercise as an essential part of post-stroke care.

Unfortunately, too few healthcare professionals prescribe exercise as a form of therapy for stroke, despite its many benefits for patients. Many stroke survivors are not given the skills, confidence, knowledge, or tools necessary to follow an exercise program. However, that can change.

With the right recovery programs that prioritize exercise for rehabilitation, stroke survivors can “relearn” crucial motors skills to regain a high quality of life. Thanks to a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity, even permanent brain damage doesn’t make disability inevitable.

A stroke causes loss of physical function because it temporarily or permanently damages the parts of the brain responsible for those functions. The same damage is also responsible for behavioral and cognitive changes, which range from memory and vision problems to severe depression and anger. Each of these changes correspond to a specific region of the brain that was damaged due to stroke.

For example, damage in the left hemisphere of your brain will cause weakness and paralysis on the right side of your body. If a stroke damages or kills brain cells in the right hemisphere, you may struggle to understand facial cues or control your behavior. However, brain damage due to stroke is not necessarily permanent.

For more Visit Site —> Stroke Recovery Exercises for Your Whole Body

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[WEB SITE] A Timeline of Stroke Recovery – Saebo

As a patient recovers from a stroke, both they and their caregivers must understand that the process is slow and uncertain. This is because the severity of the stroke can vary, and doctors, nurses, and therapists can only estimate the response of each patient based on the location of the stroke. In general, those who have suffered severe strokes will recover more slowly and require a longer, more delayed period to do so.

During the first weeks and sometimes months following a stroke, a patient’s’ speaking ability, mental clarity, and physical movements may improve. Though it depends on the person, these improvements can continue to increase several months, or possibly years, after the stroke.

While recovering, support and encouragement from friends and family, as well as the survivor’s own attitude, are vital to making progress. Different patients recuperate in a variety of ways, but there are specific milestones they and members of their support system should be looking out for.

What is a Stroke?

(source: Wikimedia – Blausen Medical Communications, Inc.)

  • A stroke occurs when the blood flow to a section of the brain is stopped due to fragmented blood vessels or blood clots. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 795,000 people have a stroke each year in the United States.

Stroke Occurs- The Brain Reacts

  • Recovery following a stroke starts as the brain responds to what’s happened. The brain’s functions will be adjusted to account for the the death or reduction of the affected area.

Three Hours In

  • If a stroke victim receives medical attention within three hours of suffering the stroke they may be a candidate to receive medication to break up clots via an IV-drip. This clot-destroying medicine can significantly reduce negative long-term disabilities in the patient.

Initial Recovery

  • The rehabilitation process begins after doctors have assessed and treated any critical conditions in the patient, and taken precautionary steps to prevent additional complications. This means rehabilitation could begin during the patient’s first hospital visit, which will increase the likelihood of recovering damaged body and brain function.
  • Range of motion exercises, changing positions (seated or lying down), and, if possible, standing or walking will be encouraged by the doctor.
  • After leaving the hospital the patient will either go to a nursing facility, inpatient rehabilitation center, or straight back to their home. Each stage of recuperation is designed to help the survivor reclaim their independence and return home as soon as possible.
  • Following the return home, therapy will continue in an outpatient facility or during in-home visits. Some patients may also do rehab on their own using home-therapy tools or following videos online.

Five–Six Weeks

  • The first five to six weeks of stroke recovery are the most intensive. During this time patients will go through inpatient or outpatient therapy, contingent on their condition and accessibility to a rehabilitation center.
  • Intense physical and occupational therapy will take place five or six days per week. There may also be the (more expensive) option of receiving in-home physical and occupational therapy treatment. This is optimal for elderly patients without access to a local treatment center.

Three Months

  • The first three months of recovery are when a patient will see the most improvement, and gains may happen rapidly over time. Some stroke survivors will continue to improve after this period, however, If the brain stem was affected during the stroke recovery could take up to a year or even longer.

Six Months

  • Although they do not occur as rapidly as they did during the first three months, the majority of improvements happen within the first six months of the initial stroke. A stroke survivor’s ability to improve during this period relies on their individual effort and the support of their friends, family, and doctors.

Two Years

  • For stroke survivors who suffer from aphasia (25 to 40 percent) it can take up to two years to fully regain their speaking ability.

The Challenging Path to Stroke Recovery

While every stroke survivor has a different and challenging path, this timeline covers the major milestones that they can expect during the recovery process. It is important to realize that it will take constant and consistent work and relearning, as well as adjustments and help from family and friends, for stroke patients to successfully recover.

Stats on Recovery

  • 10% of stroke survivors recover almost completely
  • 25% recover with minor impairments
  • 40% experience moderate to severe impairments requiring special care
  • 10% require care in a nursing home or other long-term care facility
  • 15% die shortly after the stroke


All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by the Saebo website is solely at your own risk.

Source: A Timeline of Stroke Recovery | Saebo

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[WEB SITE] How neurorehabilitation helps with stroke recovery.

How Neurorehabilitation Helps With Stroke Recovery.

Neurorehabilitation utilizes the help of occupational therapy and physical therapy with patients and their families to build back the skills and attitudes of people affected by hemiparetic stroke. The main goal is to get their skills to work at the highest level, so patients can rebuild self-esteem and a positive mood. Recovering from a stroke can be a long, almost hopeless process, but with the new adaption skills patients learn, they become empowered and gain the skills for community reintegration.

Neurorehabilitation therapies teach or retrain patients how to improve or recover their communication and mobility skills, as well as other aspects of their daily lives. In its treatments, neurorehabilitation focuses on the psychological, creative, and nutritional elements of each individual’s recovery.

  • Holistic. Provide not only physical and cognitive recovery, but also include psychological, social, and cultural aspects of the patient’s personality and those of their family.
  • Patient Focused.  Health-care strategies customized to the needs of the patient and their family.Developed and implemented by multidisciplinary teams of qualified and motivated practitioners experienced in similar types of collaboration.
  • Inclusive. Developed and implemented by multidisciplinary teams of qualified and motivated practitioners experienced in similar types of collaboration.
  • Participatory. Patient and family are actively involved and build a trusting relationship, work together with the team of medical professionals.
  • Sparing. Help the patient maximize independence and reduce physical impairment, dependence on mobility aids.
  • Lifelong. Supports and follow-up carried out from injury onset to the highest possible level of recovery of function, even later in life.
  • Resolving. Include adequate resources for efficiently attending to each patient’s difficulties as they arise.
  • Community focused. Find solutions that best fit aspects of the community and create resources that assist the patient in social reintegration.

Customized Neurorehabilitation

Neurorehabilitation can be divided into measures that aim to (1) help the patient adapt to or compensate for their impairments or (2) reduce impairments. The latter addresses underlying neurological deficits more directly but is relatively poorly understood.

Various neurorehabilitation programs, which are offered by hospitals or at private, specialized clinics, have a broad range of professionals in different neurophysiologic areas to provide the most comprehensive treatment and customized approach to allow patients and their families to live more normal lives.

Each year, newer methods and neurophysiologic technologies are developed and implemented, allowing more opportunities for patients. Since the field of neurorehabilitation is relatively new, however, many strategies are controversial because they don’t yet have the research to support their results…visit our blog to read more

At Saebo, we offer a wide range of affordable, evidence-based, rehabilitation products designed for in-home use.  To learn more about these products visit our website or click the button below to request additional information.

Source: How neurorehabilitation helps with stroke recovery.

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[WEB SITE] Important Facts Of The First Stage Of Stroke Recovery | Saebo


Every stroke is different, and every patient’s stroke recovery experience is, too. Just as your symptoms depend on the severity of the stroke and treatment you received, your ability to regain certain functions and work toward recovery will also depend on a variety of different physical factors. However, it helps to know a little more about what to expect in the days and weeks ahead.

You’ve learned about the different stages of stroke recovery, but in order to simplify this experience and improve recovery odds, it’s important to understand more about each stage. If a patient or loved one has recently experienced a stroke and lost motor control on one side of their body, they’re probably in Stage 1 of their recovery process.

But what exactly does “Stage 1” mean, and how can patients and their caregivers navigate this first chapter of the journey toward recovery? Let’s start by breaking down the nature of this first stage. After you understand the basics of your Stage 1 progress, start applying some of the most helpful recovery techniques to reach the second stage.

What is Stage 1 of Stroke Recovery?

Stroke involves the deprivation of oxygen to the brain. This damage usually occurs in a specific region of the brain, and if oxygen is not restored quickly enough, it may permanently kill or damage brain cells, resulting in varying levels of paralysis. Because of the way the brain interacts with nerves and muscles, damage on the left side of the brain can result in paralysis on the right side of the body, and vice versa.

After stroke, your brain isn’t simply damaged; it’s actively responding to this damage and attempting to protect itself from further trauma. This response may evolve throughout the stages of stroke, but it usually starts with flaccid paralysis.

more  —> Important Facts Of The First Stage Of Stroke Recovery | Saebo

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[Abstract] Upper limb motor training using a Saebo™ orthosis is feasible for increasing task-specific practice in hospital after stroke. – Australian Occupational Therapy Journal



Assistive technologies have the potential to increase the amount of movement practice provided during inpatient stroke rehabilitation. The primary aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility of using the Saebo-Flex device in a subacute stroke setting to increase task-specific practice for people with little or no active hand movement. The secondary aim was to collect preliminary data comparing hand/upper limb function between a control group that received usual rehabilitation and an intervention group that used, in addition, the Saebo-Flex device.


Nine inpatients (mean three months (median six weeks) post-stroke) participated in this feasibility study conducted in an Australian rehabilitation setting, using a randomised pre-test and post-test design with concealed allocation and blinded outcome assessment. In addition to usual rehabilitation, the intervention group received eight weeks of daily motor training using the Saebo-Flex device. The control group received usual rehabilitation (task-specific motor training) only. Participants were assessed at baseline (pre-randomisation) and at the end of the eight-week study period. Feasibility was assessed with respect to ease of recruitment, application of the device, compliance with the treatment programme and safety. Secondary outcome measures included the Motor Assessment Scale (upper limb items), Box and Block Test, grip strength and the Stroke Impact Scale.


Recruitment to the study was very slow because of the low number of patients with little or no active hand movement. Otherwise, the study was feasible in terms of being able to apply the Saebo-Flex device and compliance with the treatment programme. There were no adverse events, and a greater amount of upper limb rehabilitation was provided to the intervention group. While there were trends in favour of the intervention group, particularly for dexterity, no between-group differences were seen for any of the secondary outcomes.


This pilot feasibility study showed that the use of assistive technology, specifically the Saebo-Flexdevice, could be successfully used in a sample of stroke patients with little or no active hand movement. However, recruitment to the trial was very slow. The use of the Saebo-FlexTM device had variable results on outcomes, with some positive trends seen in hand function, particularly dexterity.

Source: Upper limb motor training using a Saebo™ orthosis is feasible for increasing task-specific practice in hospital after stroke – Lannin – 2016 – Australian Occupational Therapy Journal – Wiley Online Library

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[WEB SITE] Stroke Recovery: Problems and Solutions – Saebo

By Peter G Levine
There is a lot of frustration among stroke survivors about “the system” when it comes to stoke recovery and rehab efforts after stroke. Most of the complaints revolve around three issues:

  1. There’s not enough therapy.
  2. Clinicians are not well-trained in stroke rehab.
  3. Researchers don’t seem to have a clue about what drives recovery.

The following are possible explanations for these (legitimate) gripes.
1. Not Enough Therapy

No argument here – this is true. Managed care should take note. Every bit of clinical research points to a “more is better” perspective. There are some caveats, of course. For instance, rehab that is too intensive too soon after the stroke may impair recovery. So adding more therapy hours during the acute phase (approximately the first seven days) for some survivors is not necessarily a good idea.

Managed care appears to be confused on this point as they often send survivors to rehabilitation hospitals for a minimum of three hours per day of therapy during the initial acute phase. Once a patient reaches the sub-acute phase (approximately seven days to three months), three hours of therapy per day is a good rule of thumb. If done in the acute phase though, this level of intensity may worsen the prospects for recovery. In other words, managed care sometimes provides too much too soon, but not enough therapy later on when survivors would benefit more.

Stroke survivors need more therapy during the sub-acute phase. The chronic phase (approximately 3+ months) can be extraordinarily fruitful, as well. So, more therapy should be provided during the sub-acute and chronic phases.

But is it? Generally, no.

Not Enough Therapy: Solution?

So what can survivors and caregivers do? Write to the folks who make decisions. And do it like you vote: early and often.

2. Clinicians Not Well Trained For Stroke Recovery

Of course, this is not always true, but most therapists and other clinicians in rehab are trained in multiple pathologies. Not only are therapists trained in a broad swath of pathologies, they also treat an array of pathologies throughout the day. It’s rare to find a therapist who is trained specifically in stroke recovery. Clinicians who have specialized training usually reside in rehabilitation hospitals. However, having done talks to thousands of therapists across the country, these experts can be just about anywhere including nursing facilities, outpatient clinics, and even orthopedics settings.

For example, my wife is a physical therapist. She works on the “stroke team” at a rehabilitation hospital. She also works in a nursing home, and, therefore, is able to use her specialized knowledge from working on the “stroke team” in that facility. However, therapists are generally not well-trained in stroke recovery.
Clinicians Not Well-Trained For Stroke Recovery: Solution?

What can you do to find clinicians who are knowledgeable about stroke recovery?

Here are some suggestions:

Find A Dedicated Stroke-Recovery Facility

The Internet Stroke Center website has listings of all the hospitals in your area specially dedicated to stroke. Clinicians who work in these facilities are trained in cutting-edge stroke recovery options. Enter your zip code to find a center near you.

Find a Specially-Trained Therapist

If you are looking for a specially-trained therapist, visit the Saebo website. Look at the lower right corner of the page where it says “Find a Saebo Therapist.” Enter your zip and click “search.” These therapists are trained in a particular form of recovery (Saebo). Therapists trained in this way tend to be on the leading edge of technology and tend to aggressively help survivors pursue recovery.

Find a Nuerologist

If you are looking for an aggressive neurologist, check out the BOTOX for spasiticy website. At the top right of the page enter your ZIP code. As with Saebo-trained therapists, doctors who administer BOTOX tend to be better trained in stroke.

3. Researchers Don’t Seem To Have A Clue About What Drives Recovery

I’ve been involved in stroke specific research for quite some time, and I have absolutely no problem with the lament that research doesn’t know enough. I have no problem because it is true. Allow me to present some of the realities researchers contend with as they strive to unravel the mystery of stroke recovery.

There’s an old saying about brain injuries (and stroke is a brain injury). If “you’ve seen one brain injury… (wait for it)… you’ve seen one brain injury.” Each stroke survivor can be so different from the next that they may as well be considered completely different pathologies. Imagine these two imaginary stroke victims:

Joe is 47 years old with two kids, a mortgage, and a pretty good job; he’s highly motivated to recover. He was on blood thinners briefly after the stroke, but now takes no medications. Joe has some difficulty straightening his elbow and opening his hand. He used to walk with an AFO (ankle foot orthosis) and a cane, but a few months after the stroke he worked hard and managed to get rid of both.

Now meet Jane. Jane is 78 years old and she takes a total of 13 medications including beta blockers, blood thinners, diabetes medications, and pain medications. Why is she on pain medications? Four years ago, two years before her stroke, she fell and broke her hip, and it still hurts! She has diabetes, osteoarthritis, vertigo, a frozen shoulder, and a hip replacement. Her stroke left her with “dense” spastic hemiparesis, resulting in very little movement in her upper extremity. Because of the combination of the stroke and the orthopedic issues (hip, shoulder, arthritis), she fatigues easily. And because of the vertigo, she is often too frightened to walk, making her essentially wheelchair-bound. She’s also clinically depressed.

You don’t need to be a clinical researcher to see that Joe and Jane are very different. Joe may respond much better to an aggressive recovery option focusing on getting the hand “back in the game.” Because of her many medical conditions, Jane may benefit from treatment options that help reduce spasticity.

So when it comes to stroke, what should researchers focus on? Should they focus on spasticity, better movement, better balance, better motor planning, muscle fatigue, or depression? There clearly is not a one-size fits all answer. Cancer research has the same problem, as cancer is the name given to a collection of related diseases.


Researchers Don’t Seem To Have A Clue About What Drives Recovery: Solution?

On top of stroke being a very different pathology in different people, stroke is also a brain problem. As a brain problem, there is good news and bad news. The bad news is that the brain is complex and so diseases of the brain may take a bit of time to work out. The good news is that many disciplines are trying to figure the brain out including neuroscience, chemistry, and even computer science. Survivors constantly benefit from the continuously evolving knowledge of the brain.

My suggestion is to keep you ear to the ground and keep abreast of new treatment options for stroke recovery.

Source: Stroke Recovery: Problems and Solutions | Saebo

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[WEB SITE] Tried and True Solutions For Stroke Pain Management – Saebo

After stroke, loss of mobility isn’t the only long-term problem that prevents survivors from resuming normal activities. Post-stroke pain affects more than half of all stroke survivors. In some cases, this pain is chronic, leaving survivors with constant discomfort and hypersensitivity. Let’s walk through the common types of pain that stroke survivors experience, and introduce the tools and therapeutic techniques that were designed to reduce it and restore mobility.

Understanding the Effects of Stroke

Researchers and health care providers are tapping into new technology and learning more about the connections between brain damage and pain. Today, we know which types of brain damage and muscle loss cause certain types of post-stroke pain, making it easier to address the problem at its root. But after stroke, it’s important for patients and their caregivers to understand the distinctions between their symptoms too.

Limb Spasticity

More than one-third of all stroke survivors experience stiff or tight muscles after stroke. This is actually caused by increased muscle tone, also known as spasticity, that develops due to brain or spinal cord damage. While bodybuilders and other athletes strive for increased muscle tone, stroke survivors experience a heightened amount of muscle tension, which can damage tissues and cause painful cramps. If the muscles contract too much, patients may not be able to move their affected joints and muscles at all.

Local Pain

Spasticity also causes localized pain in certain parts of the body. If you suffer from chronic or recurring joint pain after stroke, this is most likely an example of local pain. Local post-stroke pain may affect both sides of the body, because it’s caused by awkward muscle movements and abnormal positions after stroke. While it’s a secondary side effect of the brain damage that happens during stroke, it affects everyday tasks and makes it more difficult for patients to reprogram healthy brain cells.

Central Pain

One of the most debilitating side effects of stroke is central pain. This is caused by brain damage that disrupts the brain’s ability to interpret sensory responses. After stroke, a patient with central pain will experience some of these symptoms:

  • Interpreting light, normal touches as uncomfortable or painful
  • Numbness to heat or cold
  • Heightened sensitivity to heat or cold
  • “Pins and needles” sensation without identifiable triggers
  • Constant aching on the side of the body affected by stroke

Even when central pain is moderate (rather than severe), its constant presence can have serious psychological consequences that impede both their motivation and their ability to recover. Chronic central pain can lead to drug misuse, depression, and refusal to continue physical therapy programs. That’s why it’s so important to minimize this pain as the patient begins their journey to recovery.

Reducing Discomfort with Dynamic Splints

When stroke survivors have weakened or paralyzed limbs, their discomfort is often exaggerated by muscle stiffness and gravitational forces. Splints provide extra support for the affected arm or leg, reducing the burden on the patient’s muscles. Traditional splints are static in nature causing increased pressure on the finger joints. This can lead to increased pain and joint damage. Dynamic splints are adjustable and bendable which helps reduce pain.



The SaeboStretch is a dynamic splint that offers an adaptable alternative for stroke survivors. Because it reduces or eliminates some of the triggers of pain – such as pressure on the joints or stiffness of the limbs – it can actually improve patient morale and increase home program compliance.

Restoring Range of Motion with Devices

Of course, splints can only do so much to assist stroke survivors and reduce the effects of gravity and muscle stiffness. If you don’t move your muscles regularly, fluid buildup can cause additional swelling and discomfort, especially if your weakened muscles are trying to support their own weight. Swollen hands are a common side effect of this buildup.

Mechanical devices like the SaeboGlove actually incorporate extra features that support specific joints and muscles, decreasing the impact of gravity and making it easier to move stiff or sore joints. Spasticity is less likely when patients rely on these artificial tension systems, which can be adjusted as they regain more strength and mobility. Tension systems within the SaeboGlove actually step in to extend and release crucial joints in the fingers, thumb, and wrist.

Restoring Circulation with Tight-Fitting Gloves

Do you or your patient suffer from swollen hands? This is a common side effect of stroke, because muscles need to move constantly in order to keep the blood flowing through them. If a stroke survivor cannot move their hand or forearm, fluids may build up in the tissue, requiring external stimulation to recirculate it.

Tight-fitting gloves, or edema gloves, are one effective way to recirculate these fluids and prevent painful and uncomfortable swelling. After health care providers rule out blood clots and cardiac problems, they may recommend a tight-fitting glove to push fluids back out of the arm and hand. It’s very important to recirculate this fluid until the arms can be used appropriately again.

Stretching the Muscles to Reduce Contractures

Muscle contracture is the complete loss of voluntary movement due to stiff joints and muscles. This painful and debilitating symptom usually affects muscles that haven’t been moved properly after stroke. If you already suffer from spasticity after stroke, physiotherapy is a great way to maintain healthy movements until you can regain more muscle control.

Physiotherapists help stroke survivors prevent contractures by gently manipulating their affected limbs into a variety of different positions. Although voluntary movement may still be impossible, these stretching exercises prevent the muscles from atrophying completely or becoming too tight or stiff to move.

Reduce Spasticity with Botox

Botox isn’t just a cosmetic way to reverse the effects of aging. This injectable prescription substance actually originated as a way to relax the muscles and reduce pain associated with muscle tension and contracture. Because more than one-third of all stroke survivors experience spasticity, some turn to Botox treatments to reduce their muscle tone and make it possible to straighten their limbs again.

Botox works by preventing the transmission of signals between the body and brain. Specifically, it blocks the chemical that tells your muscles to start contracting. Doctors now inject very tiny portions of Botox directly into stroke survivor’s arms and legs, effectively reducing their risk of spasms or spasticity. By preventing stiffness and complete paralysis of the limbs, Botox may help thousands of stroke survivors regain function.

(Photo Source: New York Times)

Combat Pain And Recover Faster

Because pain makes it more difficult for patients to retrain their brains and bodies, it’s very important to minimize post-stroke pain as much as possible and allow patients to focus on their rehabilitation. We hope that these tools and techniques were helpful to you as you learn how to combat the most common side effects of stroke and help reprogram the neural connections that make everyday tasks possible.

Source: Tried and True Solutions For Stroke Pain Management | Saebo

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[WEB SITE] Improve your function. Improve your life.

Impaired function from a neurological injury such as stroke may result in both sensory and motor deficits.

Limited use of the hand or arm can typically lead to impaired sensory communication to the brain (touch, feel, aware of joint movement). Research shows that sensory electrical stimulation (SES) can be an effective treatment strategy for improving sensory and motor function.

With SES, the main goal is to maximize input by providing stimulation at very low-level (i.e., without producing a muscle contraction). Studies show that providing SES to an impaired nervous system can prime the cortex ultimately leading to improve neuroplasticity, motor recovery and function. 

Which means you’re one step closer to improving your function, independence, life

Watch SaeboStim Micro in action

See it in action

Read more about Saebo’s success stories. 

Learn more from our research

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Source: Improve your function. Improve your life.

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