According to the CDC, stroke causes immobility in more than fifty percent of stroke survivors over 65 years. It’s even the leading cause of long-term immobility for all age groups. The aftermath of a stroke paralyzes or numbs different body muscles, causing difficulties in moving.
Although the stroke consequences aren’t always too bad, doctors generally prescribe wheelchairs to the patients as a mobility aid. Some may have to use a wheelchair for the rest of their life, while others can walk normally again after proper treatment.
So a wheelchair is generally required for every stroke survivor. If you’re wondering how stroke affects mobility functions or why a wheelchair makes the best mobility aid, check out this article here.
Strokes: Types and Complications
A stroke is a life-threatening medical condition where the blood supply to any part of the brain is cut off. It’s a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Several physical and neurological complications, including immobility, can occur after a stroke.
Some of these are minor and temporary, while others could be major and permanent. Generally, these complications depend on the stroke size and the affected part of the brain. Based on that, there are different types of strokes as well.
We’ll look at different stroke types and how each can hurt the mobility functions.
It’s the most common type of stroke where a blood clot can block or narrow down an artery that leads to the brain. Of many of its complications, muscle weakness is a major one that leads to mobility issues and makes one vulnerable to falls.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)
TIA is a kind of stroke that happens for a few minutes and blocks a blood supply to any part of the brain for a brief period. Although they don’t last for a long time, they could bring complications like other strokes, including muscle weakness or numbness that generally occurs on one side of the body.
Hemorrhagic stroke is the least common type, which occurs when the blood vessel starts bleeding into the brain. It’s a serious stroke that causes the brain cells to die in minutes, even leading to death. Blood clots and weak muscles are some of the common complications seen in stroke survivors.
Brain Stem Stroke
Brain stem stroke occurs when the blood supply is stopped at the brain’s base. It can affect many body functions, including motor control issues. It can even cause locked-in syndrome when the entire body can get paralyzed except for the eyes.
Complications Related to Mobility and the Need for an Aid
The difficulty in moving is a common complication across all stroke types. It can happen due to muscle weakness or numbness, paralysis, Deep Venous Thrombosis or blood clots, swelling of the brain, involuntary muscle tightening, etc.
The blood supply could be interrupted to either side of the brain, such as the left or right. If the left side of the brain is affected, then the functionality and movement in the body’s right side will be affected, and vice versa. The earlier the patient receives the treatment, the more it’s possible to reverse the damages.
With timely treatment and rehabilitation, it’s possible to regain some or most of the lost functionalities. The wheelchair is one of the most significant support aid in rehabilitation. It may not always be necessary to use it; however, most doctors prescribe this as a part of the recovery process.
Since all strokes affect muscles, the treatment is designed to encourage muscle movement. That’s why a wheelchair is recommended regardless of the stroke type or severity. Wheelchair promotes physical functionalities while ensuring the stability and balance a stroke patient needs. This is the best way to get one started for the recovery of stroke survivors.
Why Wheelchair is A Must for Stroke Patients
You don’t want yourself to end with bedsores. So you need to get out of the bed and start the muscle moving again. Generally, a stroke victim is given a wheelchair shortly after the incident. A manual wheelchair is a great way to help you sit out of bed.
However, patients with severe immobility can opt for an electric wheelchair. These wheelchairs can keep stroke patients going even with damaged motor skills and immobility in the lower extremity. If the hands are not affected, a stroke patient can get involved in normal life.
Stroke patients with difficulty in moving also use wheelchairs to attend different therapy sessions during recovery. It could include speech therapy, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, etc.
How to Ensure Comfortable and Effective Use of a Wheelchair
Whether a stroke victim uses the wheelchair for a short or long time, it must be comfortable enough to promote muscle movement and overall recovery. If you choose a manual wheelchair, it should have the following features to ensure comfortability.
- Should have a flip back or detachable armrest for easy transferring in and out of it
- A detachable footrest that can help one to use their feet for propelling in the later stage of recovery
- Ergonomic design that promotes good posture while sitting
- Anti-bacterial, padded cushion to prevent pressure sores from occurring
- An additional work tray that offers a workspace to eat or do anything
A wheelchair is the most effective walking assistive device to improve the quality of life for any stroke survivor. The main aim of stroke rehabilitation is to help stroke victims regain body movement like before. The wheelchair is the first step toward this process that encourages muscle movement and mobility.
Some patients show excellent recovery, and at one point, they learn how to balance even without a wheelchair. These patients can move to other faster ambulatory aids like walkers. However, some stroke survivors go through long-term disabilities and may have to use a wheelchair for the rest of their lives.
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