I get a lot of questions about stroke recovery and try to answer the best I can given the fact that I have rarely met the folks I'm giving advice to. Here is an email I got recently. Hope the following exchange helps some folks!
Dear Mr. Levine,
In March of 2014 my friend had a stroke. She is 59, very gifted and motivated. She has received physical and occupational therapy from local facilities since then and has made a lot of improvement. We have obtained a Neuromove unit and recently got a Walkaide device for her foot, but it is looking like we are reaching the limit of local expertise to help her push forward. She has been very motivated up to now, but upon not satisfactorily acheiving some of her 6 month goals, has hit a rough patch. So we are just searching for anything that might spur her on at this point. We have looked into constraint induced programs locally, but not impressed with what we have found. Also, she is very reluctant to undergo the frustration she thinks this therapy will be. We don't want to encourage her to do something difficult without knowing it has a good chance of helping her. I am writing to you because your book has been a huge help in "coaching" her, and I thought you might know someone in New England who we could go to for help.
A couple quick things; it looks like you're doing the right thing re: NeuroMove, and the walkaid. I'm a pretty big fan of both of those.
Secondly, if she is plateauing, that's to be expected. The general philosophy is that once the plateau has taken place, gains can continue to be made, but of course, the gains are much more conservative given an equal amount of work.
Sometimes it helps to work towards specific goals. For instance, your friend may walk great with the walkaid, but may not walk fast enough to make getting around outside useful. So increasing the speed of walking would be the goal. In fact, quickness can generally be used as a goal; upper body dressing, cooking a specific dish, making a bed etc. can all be goals were speed is worked on.
In terms of finding a place in New England, of course there are quite a few good ones. Find the link on this blog on the right hand column [-->] you'll see something that says "FIND A STROKE CENTER NEAR YOU?" Click on that, put in your ZIP Code, and all the hospitals that are supposed to be good at stroke recovery will come up- they should be able to direct you to the best rehab options. There's other links on there (on the right side column [-->]) to help you look for aggressive physiatry and other rehab clinicians.
One last thing, and this is a tough one… But your friend may be simply at the end of recovery. This is one thing I struggled with in my book… And in fact had somebody else write it; Kathy Spencer. I'll attach and image of her quote to this email (bottom of this blog entry). And she talks about the point at which living your life gets in the way of recovery. At some point there's not enough justification for the hard work given the amount of gains that are made. It's a decision that everybody has to make for themselves.
Have you looked into the saeboflex? It may be appropriate.
But, again,there's no magic algorithm here, it's just more work.
Please let me know if you have any other comments, insights, etc.
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