Before you're discharged from a hospital or rehab facility after a stroke, your doctor may have your home evaluated by an occupational therapist. The therapist makes sure your home is safe and equipped to help you manage daily life with physical limitations. It takes a trained eye to pick out safety hazards that you wouldn't even think of yourself. Here are some things the therapist looks for.
If you have problems with balance or moving one of your limbs, then you want to eliminate tripping hazards in your home. Carpets and rugs should be flat and non-skid. You may be asked to remove area rugs in the house. Getting rid of floor clutter, such as magazine baskets, piles of clothes, or stacks of books is also necessary. Your electrical cords and internet cables must be arranged so they are behind furniture. You'll need a wide, clear path throughout the house so you can move about without catching your toe on anything that throws you off balance.
The occupational therapist ensures your bed is a good match for your size. Your feet should be flat on the floor when you sit on the side of the bed, so you have good balance. You may need safety devices such as bed rails or grab bars that help you get out of bed. A bedside commode may be necessary too, so you don't have to stumble to the bathroom when you're half asleep and risk falling.
The bathroom is one of the most dangerous rooms in your home when you have balance problems because of the slippery floors and hard surfaces. Your therapist will make recommendations for safety equipment as needed, such as grab bars by the tub or toilet, an elevated toilet seat, non-skid tub mats, and a shower chair.
You may need to rearrange your kitchen so you can reach food and dishes from the cabinets without having to step on a stool or stretch. The therapist will also consider if you'll be able to twist the stove knobs, turn on the faucet, and open the refrigerator door if you have arm weakness. You may even need specially designed dishes, like plates with ledges, or adaptive utensils if you've lost the use of one arm.
Above all, your occupational therapist evaluates your home for overall safety. There should be lights or lamps within easy reach by your bed, recliner, and near the entrance to each room. There should be ramps if you need them. If you can climb stairs, the stairs should be in good repair with handrails. You need smoke detectors, phone service, and plans in place on what to do in an emergency, especially if you live alone.
The occupational therapist's home evaluation could even impact whether you can be discharged to your home or if you need to go to a nursing facility or a relative's home. For instance, an upper level apartment in a building without an elevator would be a problem, as would a home with very narrow doorways if you need to stay in a wheelchair.
If you do return home, you may have a few occupational therapy sessions once you're there to ensure you're able to function safely. The goal is to help you return to the activities of daily life, even if you do have limitations after your stroke.
For more information, contact Bayonet Point Health & Rehabilitation Center or a similar location.Share
27 May 2015
My name is Katie Langer. For a long time, I was bed ridden and I felt like I had no control over my life. I simply went along with what was instructed by my doctor and I didn't ask questions. It wasn't that my doctor wasn't willing to work with me, but I preferred to simply not think about the illness I was suffering from. I didn't realize that some of the symptoms I was suffering from were side effects of my medication and were not normal. After communicating more with my doctor, I was able to alleviate my symptoms. Since then, I've taken an interest in patient-doctor relationships and how to improve them.