Monday, October 15, 2012

Stroke Survivors everywhere

You made it.

You're a stroke survivor or you wouldn't be reading this blog.

You're unique, you're different.  You have physical and mental me, you'll continue to get better, not just well, but better!  It works!

Sure, it's going to be hard work but it's going to be successful work.  And, remember that you'll become a better person with each step you take to heal yourself.  You ask, why me...can't answer that 'cause I don't know you - may be lifestyle, may be diet, may be heredity, may be illness.

But I do know something,  because I've been there, done that.  I'm a stroke survivor, too.

Pain, depression, speech, walking, movement, coordination, eating, just washing your hands and face or putting on make-up or shaving to keep your life up, make yourself feel better.  Each step, each job is a taxing chore that at first takes unlimited time.  It's all part of the healing process and it's worth it.  And, it works!  With today's medicine and therapy and assistance it'll probably take you 33 months, not the 33 years it took me.

There's more to come, 'cause I've a lot to say.  To help you.  The stages, the steps, the frustrations, the victory and celebration.  That's why my book, a book written to help you.

Dick Burns

Friday, September 14, 2012

Stroke Rehabilitation

Same excuse.  Know you've got to write blogs twice a week, at least once...but then you don't sell that little book that tells what your new life is all about - how, how long, the perils, the set-backs, the challenges that face this new you.  Eventually, a better new you.

They say that home is where the heart is.  In this case it's where the brain is.

Home rehabilitation allows for greater flexibility so that the patient may tailor their program of rehabilitation and follow individual schedules.  Stroke Survivors may participate in an intensive level of therapy several hours a week.  Or follow a less demanding schedule, according to doctor's instructions and their own abilities and time.   It is suggested that such arrangements may be best suited for one type of therapy at a time.  Note that patients who depend on Medicare coverage must meet "homebound" requirements to qualify for these types of therapy.  The major disadvantage of home-based rehabilitation services is the lack of spevcialized equipment.  But then there's you and your purpose and desire and the advantages of practicing skills and developing alternate and compensatory strategies in their own living environment.  In recent trials, intensive balance and strength rehabilitation in the home was equivalent to treadmill training at a rehabilitation facility in improving walking. 

Always remember that you're not alone anymore.  Research-qualified organizations such as National Stroke Association, American Stroke Association,National Institute of Health, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, Easter Seals, Aphasia Hope, National Aphasia Association, National Rehabitation Inforfmation Center - the list goes on.    

Next up - how you.

Richard Burns   

Thursday, August 16, 2012


Sorry.  I know it's been almost a month.  Been out of town on a book tour.  That's what the book is all about, to tell stroke survivors about how to do it and what you need to get it done...and to do it right.  Anyhow, if I knew how to do all this electronic stuff, I'd do it by remote.  But I don't., and, I'm just happy to walk and work and wonder at the joys of life.

This next installment is about where you'll find help.  The last installment told you that the "when" is never too late.  To reiterate, it's been forty-plus years for me and I'm still working and learning and making it, me, better. So forget about those limitations you've heard.  Just do it!

So, where?

At the time of your discharge from the hospital., you and your family should coordinate with hospital social workers to locate the most suitable living arrangement.  Home seems best, but maybe some type of medical rehabilitation facility is better.

In-patient rehabilitation units may be appropriate.  They may be freestanding or part of the hospital complex. You stay there for 2-3 weeks and engage in an intensive program with your physician and a full range of therapists.  We're talking 3-4 hours of active therapy a day, 5-6 days a week (you get time off, too).  Out-patient units involve your staying at home and returning to the hospital facility for all these necessary treatments and then going home each night.  The best thing here is you gain confidence living in familiar surroundings and you can try out the things that you learn...but the best results will take longer to achieve.  There are also nursing facilities that place greater emphasis on rehabilitation practices and stress greater home care but have fewer hours of practiced therapy.

Up next is home-based therapy and rehabilitation.  And that's where I've been the last 44 years of my life.  And the beat goes on.

(But it works)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Let's refer back to the last "blog."  The  test of walking.  It made no difference if it started 2 months, 6 months, or longer.  No matter how severe the stroke damage, 52% of the test group made significant improvement, significant progress 

Thus, the key ingredient to this success was the stroke survivor, not the time.

And the key ingredients to.your success is YOU and the intelligent use of the rehabilitation tools available to you..

Time is only a measurement in your life.  Remember, it's not just how you handle something, it's what you do with how you handle it that's important.

Ever play golf?  Watch golf?  80% of the game is mental ("Sports Illustrated , July 23, 2012).  I'm a golfer, play some because golf has a handicap and that fits.  As a "pro" once said to me: "it's better to walk on top of the grass than underneath...." 
I really began my physical and mental comeback when I was 60 and that's 20 +  years ago. (2 months, 6 months, longer?)  Took me some time to figure out just how important the mental part of the game was and how to rewire my brain and body to make it work. 

I'm not unique.  I'm no better or worse.

Rehabilitation takes time.  There will be plateaus where nothing happens for what seems an interminably long time... and then!.  There are phases you'll go through.
There are steps to take, things you need do and physical therapy, the stroke rehabilitation program that makes it all work..

Sure, it's tough but you'll end up a new and improved person.

Been there.  Done that.

Dick Burns   

Monday, July 16, 2012

Stroke Rehabilitation

Physical Therapy goes by many names.  We've looked previously at Rehabilitation Nurses, Physical Therapists, Speech Pathologists, Speech  Language Pathologists (yes, talking again is part of rehabilitation), Vocational Therapists, (and yes, returning to work is a major concern like income support, things to challenge and speed your recovery... you can;t just sit back and let  it happen, you've got to work to make it happen )   We've looked at and analyzed problems and the physical practice needed to make you, and life, better ... like walking, grooming, daily ablutions, sensory stimulatuion  ( the big words for simple, everyday needs.)  

There was a recent study.  The largest.  Two common techniques to help stroke survivors improve their walking.  Both methods,  training on a body-weight tredmill and working on strength and balance exercises at home...resulted in equal improvements on the ability to walk after a year.  One year?  Common theory says six months or forget it.   Oh? 
The trial showed that 52 percent of the participants made significant improvement to walking, every day function and the quality of life.  No matter what, how severe, or whether they started at 2 or 6 months after their stroke.  

Stay tuned.  We're going somewhere with this.  

Dick Burns

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


They're called occupational and recreational therapists.  They're part of the team that helps the stroke survivor regain a normal life.  No, let's not kid ourselves:  it'll never be what it was.  But you can make it a good life.  A more positive and rewarding life.

Like physical therapists, occupational therapists are concerned with improving motor and sensory abilities and ensuring patient safety.  They help the survivor to relearn the basic skills like personal grooming, cooking, housekeeping, personal finances, records, even driving and on road skills.- simply the basic functions of living a life.  All this requires coordination of muscles and nerves - they teach it and you learn to do it as before... and, do it better.

Recreational therapists are primarily concerned with developing the proper use of leisure time to enhance health, independence and the quality of life.

The repetition, the time - can be so very frustrating.  It makes the eventual conclusion that much more satisfying and you learn to appreciate the personal reward with every step you take to make yourself well again.

Please take it from one who's been there, done that and is reasonably a well and acceptably whole person again. (and, besides, the work and the practice makes you a better one).

Dick Burns