I Could Not Move My Right Arm
Initially, after my 2 strokes, I could not move my dominant right arm and the sensation in my arm was non-existent. I was so scared!
For about 2 weeks there was no signs of improvement. The physiotherapist in hospital started exercising my arm and then suddenly there was a twinge in my arm - the first twinge in over 2 weeks. I wasn't sure if it was just a twinge or something more.
I started to get more twinges over the next couple of weeks and I could move my arm just a little bit. It was amazing and from then I was positive to get my arm and hand functional again.
To begin with, I couldn't do anything with only one functional arm and hand. But slowly and gradually I had to adapt with my non-dominant hand (now my dominant hand) and do day-to-day things like dressing and washing - basically I had to re-learn pretty much everything again.
When we left the hospital post-stroke my Dad used to come to my flat every lunchtime and do physio on my arm for an hour and I continued with my own physio as well.
Also, I went to The Prestbury Centre for some more physio with a qualified physiotherapist. For 6 months she helped me exercise my arm and hand, which was really good, but I was still only getting a bit of movement in my arm and I could grip my hand a little bit but no finger extension.
They also supplied me with a SaeboStretch to stretch my hand each night (I'm still wearing it now - mostly at night - see image to the right).
I read an advert in The Stroke Association's magazine about Saebo and it's products and I was very interested so went onto their website to read more about a thing called SaeboFlex and SaeboReach.
My Dad called Saebo and there was a free Saebo Assessment Site in Gloucester, about 15 minutes away, so we decided to go along. The assessment was successful because I could grip a little bit. I had to go for the SaeboReach because I needed some help with my elbow as well.
When I got the SaeboReach (image to the left) they showed me how to put it on and what was involved. To begin with, I could grip a ball, but it would take a bit of time releasing the ball. I had exercises at home, 2 x 45 minutes per day, and exercises at the physio's clinic once a week.
Over time, my arm was getting a lot stronger (and I detached the elbow component because I didn't need it any more) and my grip was improving, but I still couldn't extend my fingers.
I read an article in The Stroke Association's magazine about Functional Electrical Stimulation units for the arm and I was fascinated! We went to see PhysioFunction (where I got the WalkAide for my leg from) and talked about different options for the arm.
First of all we used a TENS (transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) machine to try to get my arm muscles working again and got a Bioness NESS H200 Hand Rehabilitation System (image to the right). The Ness H200 is basically 5 pads, unique to each individual, within an arm gadget and connected to a device which controls the electric current to the arm.
With the Ness H200 on, I can extend my fingers, close my fingers and grasp something - it's quite ingenious. I use my Ness H200 about 3-5 days a week, ranging from 30 minutes to 90 minutes. It's good exercise and helps me use my arm and hand more functionality.
I'm also using a Compression Recovery Sleeve (image to the left) to help circulate the blood more effectively because I sometimes used to see my hand in a blue colour due to bad circulation.
In addition to that I had Botox twice in my arm and hand to relax the muscles, which helped a little. I also had Baclofen tablets, a muscle relaxant, but I stopped taking it after 6 months because it was messing with my head psychologically.
I think it's a combination of electric stimulus, the compression recovery sleeve, using weights to strengthen my arm and a variety of other things and now I can move my arm above my head, behind me and in front of me albeit awkwardly, a bit stiff and sometimes with difficulty.
My hand is more relaxed, and I can use my hand on some items functionality such as gripping a variety of items (e.g. a tea bag and put it into a cup), sometimes using my left hand to help me, but I still can't voluntary extend my fingers. I'm also playing the Nintendo Wii with my right hand, so I can play tennis and golf and others, and I can eat with my right hand with a specially adapted fork and spoon.
Recently, I can sometimes move my thumb slightly outwards (extension), which is a massive step, but it depends - sometimes I can extend my thumb, sometime I can't.
I'm trying to use my right hand in a functional way. I still can't write or type on the computer with my right hand, or a variety of other things, because my fingers can't do anything independently of each other, but i'm still positive, exercise almost every day and will never give up hope!!
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