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Rated as the third highest cause of death in the United States and Europe, Stroke or a "brain attack" can completely turn life upside down for survivors. Problems such as memory loss, partial paralysis, and loss of speech have made Stroke the number one cause of adult disability. While recovery and rehabilitation usually takes months or even years, the loss of blood to the brain can cause permanent, irreversible damage with life-changing consequences.
The most frustrating aspect of daily life for stroke patients is the loss of independence. While taken for granted before a stroke occurs, the ability to take care of one's self and complete daily tasks without help is extremely important to the average person. People who were active before the stroke can find it difficult to have to rely on someone else to cook their meals, bathe them, and help them to go to the restroom.
With the help of special products designed to make daily living easier for them, stroke patients are able to lead more independent lives and rely less and less on loved ones or caretakers. Whether it is bathing, cooking, dressing, or simply getting from point "A" to point "B", a variety of independent living products exist to make the lives of stroke victims easier.
Partial paralysis and loss of dexterity can make the bathroom the most dangerous and difficult room to navigate. Insuring that the patient is safe in the bathroom should be the first priority. Because most bathroom safety products are not returnable due to hygiene reasons, and typically not covered by insurance, it is best to choose carefully. Be sure to take measurements of the bathtub or shower stall, and the toilet and surrounding area before making any purchases.
A raised toilet seat with arms will make getting on and off the toilet much easier for the stroke patient as well as offer them something sturdy to hang on to when standing up or sitting down. The Carex Raised Toilet Seat is sturdy, easy to install, and very inexpensive. Simply remove the two bolts that hold the current toilet seat in place and use them to attach the enclosed bracket. The seat then locks onto the bracket and can be easily removed for cleaning. The seat itself has a large surface for added comfort with an opening in the front.
In some cases, the patient may need an extra boost to get off of the toilet seat. The Moen Premium Bedside Commode is a raised toilet seat with built in shocks to give the patient assistance when standing up. The shocks feature adjustable levels of resistance depending on the patient's weight and are activated by hand grips in the armrests. The Airlift can be used a bedside commode with the included frame or mounted on the toilet in the same fashion as the RTS 4002 Ergonomic Raised Toilet Seat.
Depending on the severity of the patient's condition, there are a few options to consider for getting in and out of the bathtub. In cases where the patient still has very little limitations on their mobility, a bath bench or shower seat, such as the Carex Universal Bath Bench will suffice. The Carex Universal Bath Bench features individually adjustable legs at infinite increments, insuring that the seat is level on virtually any surface. The wide seat offers added comfort while the non-slip rubber feet are rounded to conform to the inside of a bathtub. If the patient has some difficulty getting over the side of the tub, or is unsteady when doing so, a transfer bench can serve as both a safe method for getting in and out as well as a shower seat. The Snap N Save Swivel Seat Sliding Transfer Bench is built on a sturdy, stainless steel and aluminum frame, and features a seat the swivels and locks in 90 degree increments. The patient is able to sit down, then slide along the built in track over the edge and into the tub or shower. An integrated seat belt keeps them from sliding off and the bench is also available with a padded seat.
If the patient wishes to be able to take a bath as opposed to using the shower, a bath lift such as the Whisper Ultra Quiet Bathtub Lif or the Invacare Rio Bath Lift will provide the added lift needed to get them in and out of the tub. Bath lifts are powered by low voltage batteries so there is no risk of electric shock. The lifts raise the patient up to the same height as the tub and feature flaps that create a transfer surface to allow the stroke patient to get in and out. Most bath lifts require no installation and include a feature that will not lower the lift unless it has enough battery power to lift the patient, so they do not get stuck in the bathtub.
Regardless of the patient's condition, the most important addition to a bathroom is a set of grab bars. Grabs bars are available in three types: wall mounted, tub mounted, and suction cup. Wall mounted grab bars are inexpensive but require professional installation for safety reasons. They are, however, very useful when installed near the toilet or on a long wall for added safety. Tub mounted grab bars, such as the Safety First Satin Nickel Angled Grab Bar, attach to the side of the tub with a clamp and offer additional safety when getting in and out of the tub. These are ideal for tubs with shower curtains.
At first glance, a suction cup grab bar may seem unstable and expensive, but this is a common misconception. When properly applied, a Portable Suction Grab Bar can be an extremely useful tool for bathroom safety and mobility. Simply push the bar firmly up against a completely smooth, clean shower wall and fasten the safety levers on both ends. When installed correctly, the Portable Suction Grab Bar provides up to 135 pounds of suction - more than enough to serve as a "safety net" for falls and to provide a way to steady one's self when getting in and out of the tub. They are available in a variety of lengths and, while they are more expensive than standard grab bars, they save you the cost and hassle of drilling holes in your walls.
While each product serves its own purpose, bath safety products provide the highest level of safety when used together. Offering the stroke survivor the highest level of safety available enables them to bathe and use the restroom independently and without incident, giving them a boost in self esteem and giving you much needed peace of mind.
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