LAY OF THE LAND. KNOW YOUR SURROUNDINGS AS A STROKE SURVIVOR.
Lay of the Land:
As a Stroke Survivor, you really need to scan a room before or as soon as you enter. The questions you should be asking yourself is, are there any floor mats in the room. Floor mats are better known as "Death Mats" in the Stroke Community, and are one of the major causes of falls, because they rarely ever lay completely flat on the floor, or the corners are turned up. So avoid them if possible. Also, try and keep solid objects such as tables or walls on your unaffected side, in case you do stumble and need to grab hold of something solid to regain your balance. An injury caused by a fall Post Stroke, will stall your recovery, so it is better to be safe then sorry, after the fact.
Another important thing to look for when you are going inside a building, is where is the Emergency Exit. If possible, sit as close to the Emergency Exit as possible, in case you need to use it in an Emergency, such as a fire. If you cannot sit near the Emergency Exit, be sure you know where it is. Remember, the shortest distance between two points, is a Straight Line. Make getting out of there as easy as possible, because the best seat in the house, may not be the safest seat in the house.
On an aircraft, the Emergency Exit, should be off limits to you, because the fate of the passengers, may be on your shoulders. It just isn't worth the extra leg room. But a great idea, is to check where the Emergency Exit is located from you, and count how many rows of seats are between you and the Exit. If you need to get out, you can count the rolls of seats, as you walk towards the Exit. If there is smoke in the cabin, you will be glad you did.
All roads, sidewalks are built so that water runs off and doesn't pool in puddles. Many sidewalks are high in the center, or sloped slightly to the left or right allowing the water to run off. Most Strokes result in a slight to severe Foot Drop, or Drop Foot. To walk without scuffing your toe, causing you to stumble, just look at the road or sidewalk you are walking on. Then walk so that your Stroke affected side is on the lower side of the road or sidewalk. I walk around the route marked in blue, in the picture above. Since my Stroke affected my Left side, I always navigate so that my left side is on the low side of the road, sidewalk or trail. Since I walk this route several times a day in the Spring, Summer and Fall, I know exactly where to walk, that positions my left side on the low side. If I walk in a new area outside, I always look to see the LAY OF THE LAND, keep this in mind, and adjust my walking position accordingly. With Sidewalks that are high in the middle, allowing the water to run off in both directions, keep your unaffected leg/foot in the center of the sidewalk, when possible, then your affected leg/foot will be on the low side of center. If you think that this don't really matter, take it from me, it does!!
Making it a habit of knowing your surroundings, or the LAY OF THE LAND, should help reduce your risk of an injury caused by a fall, and keep you focused on Stroke Recovery, and not Injury Recovery. Remember one of Saebo's slogans, Repetition is key!
All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Many opinions and viewpoints are based on my own Personal Stroke Recovery journey. As every Stroke is different, so is every Stroke Recovery. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by the JGH Rehab website is solely at your own risk