When a Parent Suffers a Stroke

There are certain phone calls we never want to get, especially as our parents age. Finding out that a parent has had a stroke is among the worst. Immediately the questions begin swirling. What kind of stroke and how severe was it? How much cognitive and motor function was lost?

What will the stroke recovery process look like?

All valid and important questions to ask after such a phone call, one that, unfortunately, is far too common. According to the Internet Stroke Center, stroke is the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.

What to Do When a Family Member Has a Stroke

The stroke recovery process will begin in the hospital. Immediate and constant monitoring is usually necessary to help stabilize a stroke patient, assess the damage, and then develop a long-term plan for rehabilitation. This will involve a team of physicians, including neurologists, physical therapists, and other specialists. The time needed for convalescing will vary depending on the severity of the stroke.

As family members of a stroke victim, there are a few things we can do lend a hand throughout the stroke recovery process:

Be There for Them

At this time, it’s important to support the stroke victim. The easiest way to do so is to be by their side. Not only can you help them through this difficult time; but you can stay abreast of the latest information from the medical team, including outlook, treatment, and next steps.

Inform the Family

Reach out to family members to inform them of the event and to enlist their support. Visits. Food. A shoulder to cry on, a person to talk to. The stroke recovery process will “take a village,” and no single family member should be expected to shoulder the load alone.

Educate Yourself

Being able to identify stroke and understanding the treatment and recovery process will help you not only support your loved one, but cope with the trauma yourself. Here are some solid resources for stroke awareness and education:

Be an Advocate
Stroke education goes hand in hand with being an advocate for your parent after they suffer a stroke. In hospitals, the saying goes “squeaky wheel gets the oil first.” It’s up to you and your family to ask timely and relevant questions and communicate on behalf of the stroke victim. Stroke recovery is a long, multifaceted process—the opportunities for patient advocacy are plenty. Here are some considerations you’ll likely have to make:

  • Procedures or surgeries needed
  • Medication schedule
  • Fall risk and stroke repeat risk
  • Next step after the hospital
  • Home modifications
  • Post-discharge caregiving needs
  • Insurance considerations
  • Power of attorney
  • Living will and testament

What to Expect During Stroke Rehabilitation

Typically, stroke patients will transition from their inpatient care facility to either inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation. This is when the stroke patient begins the arduous work of relearning motor and speech skills, redeveloping cognitive function, and learning to live with any permanent damage caused by the stroke.

Stroke rehabilitation typically breaks down into three general areas:

  • Speech therapy 
  • Occupational therapy 
  • Physical therapy

During rehabilitation, therapists will make periodic assessments to help make recommendations for insurance companies, discharge, and post-therapy options. Therapists will also perform assessments on a patient’s ability to operate vehicles and return to work.

Because stroke events can severely affect balance and coordination, the rehabilitation process often includes specialized tools. The AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill, for example, is sometimes deployed during stroke rehabilitation to enable patients to exercise while limiting fall risk. Physical therapists can also use video monitoring to deliver fine-tuned therapy sessions.

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

A wise doctor once said, “there are no minor strokes.” Every stroke is different, and every stroke patient will follow a different path to rehabilitation and recovery. It will never be easy—not for the patient, nor the patient’s family.

From the family’s perspective, there will be a lot of coping and psychological impact. Seeing a parent who was active for so many years lose function is tough. And there is a tendency for family members to shoulder more burden than is healthy or sustainable.

It is important that no one family member bear the burden alone. It’s also important to talk with other family members, seek support and additional information where necessary. Taking care of ourselves, leaning on the people close to use, and being good advocates are the best ways we can best support our parents through this difficult life event.

Back to School! How to Deal with Youth Sports Injuries

First, the bad news: summer is nearly over. Sigh. For parents, this means everything is about to get a whole lot busier—everything. Back to school preparations. Rides to and from activities, sports, and clubs.  

With everything going on, the last thing parents need is an injury or illness. A kid coming down with the flu is one thing. But a broken leg suffered at soccer practice is something different altogether.

Avoiding youth sports injuries, and understanding how to deal with them when they do happen, is a major consideration for any parent. Here are some important considerations.

Thinking of Getting Your Child Involved in Youth Sports?

Good on you! There are many benefits to participating in youth sports. Apart from helping kids stay healthy and fit, kids can also find fulfillment in the camaraderie and socialization that comes with being part of a team. According to the National Council of Youth Sports, youth sports can boost physical health, social well-being, psychological health, and even academic performance.

Yet, youth sports are not without risk. Stanford Children’s Health highlights some eye-opening injury statistics youth sports:

  • Approximately 30 million children and teens participate in organized sports, resulting in more than 3.5 million injuries annually (United States)

  • Approximately 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among American children are the result of sports and rec activities

The riskiest sports? In an article in TODAY, Dr. Bennet Omalu listed American football, ice hockey, mixed martial arts, boxing, wrestling, and rugby as sports to avoid until the age of 18. And though contact sports carry higher risk, a child can suffer an injury no matter what sport they play.

Common Youth Sports Injuries

The most common injuries will vary by sport. Common basketball injuries, for example, will likely differ from those of swimming. Generally speaking, there are two types of youth sports injuries:

  • Acute
  • Overuse

Acute injuries are usually the result of collision or a certain movement. Examples of acute injury include fractures, sprains, and contusions. Overuse injuries, on the other hand, result from repetitive motions and repeated stress put on a particular part of the body. Tennis elbow is a good example, as is tendonitis.

How to Reduce the Risk of Youth Sports Injuries

There are a number of precautions that parents can take with their children to prevent youth sports injuries. We’ve organized them into three broad categories:

  • Diet and hydration. A child’s nutrition impacts their everyday life, including sports performance. Without proper nutrition and hydration, the body does not have what it needs to stay strong and resilient during athletic activity. This contributes directly to injury risk.

  • Preparation. There is a reason we stretch before going out for a run, or exercise at the gym. If we just jumped right into it, we’d likely injure ourselves. The games for youth sports, where stretching, strength and conditioning, and practice can help limit injury risk.

  • Protection. Helmets, pads, and other protective gear is crucial, even during practice. This is especially true for contact sports like American football.

My Child Suffered an Injury – Now What?

Many common injuries do not require any kind of escalation. The old formula—rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE)—will usually suffice. RICE and time.

When a child suffers an acute or overuse injury that requires therapy, however, you might consider physical therapy. Finding the right therapist will require a little work. We recommend look for clinics that specialize in sports rehabilitation and pediatric therapy.

You might also refine your search based on what tools and approaches a clinic uses. Some clinics leverage the Anti-Gravity Treadmill® for pediatric rehab, helping adolescents overcome pain resulting from sports injury or other conditions. The best way to find out is to just ask.

AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill and Youth Sports Injuries

Whether it’s a young person or seasoned professional, the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill can be highly effective in rehab for athletes. Using unweighting technology, the Anti-Gravity Treadmill can be fine tuned to enable rehab while limiting the risk of re-injury or discomfort. Plus, what better way to convince kids to go to the physical therapist than to tell them they’ll get to walk on air!

Yes, the fall is here. The best way for parents to prepare for the bumps and bruises to come (and they will come!) is to stay informed and be prepared. Information is power, and knowing what to do when youth sports injuries do happen can help shorten rehab cycles and get kids back on the playing field sooner rather than later.

 

Get to Know the AlterG® Video Monitoring System

What makes the difference between a three-week recovery time and a six-week recovery time? Between a highly effective rehab cycle, and a less than optimal one? The answer largely depends on the extent to which physical therapists and patients can collaborate. This is true during injury rehabilitation, advanced athletic training, or stroke recovery.

In each of these therapy scenarios, gait assessment plays a central role in the pace and progress of rehab. Fortunately, there are many tools today that help automate certain aspects of gait assessment and facilitate patient/therapist collaboration. In our last post, we took a closer look at Stride Smart, our integrated gait assessment technology.

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