Something REALLY New to Help Stroke Survivors

Something REALLY New to Help Stroke Survivors

I’m just taking a guess. I never met him. But Robert Thornton is probably one of those guys that you meet every so often because, as it turns out, he is a humanitarian. Sharon, his girlfriend, had a stroke on April 4, 2012, and as a result of the stroke, developed, among other things, a subluxed shoulder, common in stroke survivors. She had severe pain that was caused by the misaligned shoulder. First, a little history on subluxation so you can understand what Robert did.

Taking all the medical mumbo-jumbo out of the picture, the shoulder joint, a ball and socket formation, is the most flexible of any joint in the body. It also makes the shoulder the most unstable joint. In a subluxed shoulder, popular wisdom, in plain English, explains that the shoulder joint’s failure of the socket to completely cover the ball of the upper arm bone makes the shoulder reliant on soft tissue instead to hold it in position. When the upper arm comes substantially out of the shoulder socket, it allows for less mobility, and subluxation results.

With a shoulder subluxing, the patients sometimes feel a popping sound as the ball joint moves out of the socket then returns. Some patients feel their arms losing feeling. Others get a sense if they raise their shoulders too high, the shoulder will pop out permanently which, of course, it sometimes does. When shoulder subluxes, pain occurs and is positioned primarily in the shoulder joint. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) says most of shoulder subluxations happen because the shoulder slips forward, starting the patient’s pattern of avoiding motions which give pain to the patient, thus resulting in weakness for those motions the patient can’t–or won’t–do anymore. The AAOS says the shoulder will often sense numbness and tingling, traveling down the arm.

Visual signs are often these:
* Swelling or bruising over the spot where the injury occurred.
* Less rounding of the subluxed shoulder as compared to a healthy shoulder.
* Dimpling below the bony protrusion at the top of the shoulder.

Even if you can’t interpret the visual signs that accompanies subluxation as needing HELP, there is the pain, and that’s where Robert comes into the picture. This excerpt comes from Robert, and I offer it to you, coming right from the man’s heart:

“The ER …man what a scary place…not much compassion there. They deal with death every day and it shows they do what they can, but honestly, how would you like the job of trying to calm down family members of a patient on the brink of death…that’s gotta be hard on your heart and soul. Sharon was in ER for a week. The doctors told us not to expect her to recover and said if she did recover at all, she would have total loss of her left side. Ok, with that news shocking the family, what was I supposed to do? This is my soul mate and I knew if I gave up, she would, too. There was no way I was going to let that happen. So first things first. I taught her to eat so they wouldn’t put a feeding tube in her (tough fight there they kept ordering a tube and I kept telling them to wait. I knew she would eat on her own given the chance). Ok, now we’re off to recovery center.

In-patient rehab….These people do great things and they’re very positive and encouraging (what a refreshing change). The therapy she received helped her leg, her speech, her eating and swallowing, just about everything but her arm and hand…this is what I would like to talk about.

I have been by her side since her stroke every therapy she got. I repeated it in her hospital room and her recovery was amazing, but they couldn’t really do anything for her arm (mainly due to the pain). I asked them about a sling to hold her arm and shoulder joint in place (they said the pain and swelling was from pinched nerves in the shoulder). They said that she just had to work through the pain because there was no sling that really worked for the sublux shoulder.

My answer to that: bull*&^%.

I watched her therapist hold her arm in place and her pain went away. I started searching for a sling …and sadly they were right. Every sling I found caused more harm than good…and they wouldn’t let me put any on her. (They did try the givemore sling, but it just didn’t work. Every time she bent her arm, her shoulder fell down). Well, I didn’t stop there.

When she got home, she had in-home care and I started making different slings while her therapist kept telling me what was wrong with each sling (I made 10 kinds). Finally, they started liking where I was going with number 11. When I finished it, her therapist loved it. Her pain level dropped to where she no longer takes pain meds. The recovery of her arm jumped 80% in two weeks. Now, all of her doctors and the therapist require her to wear the sling I made.

subluxation sling

All of her doctors and therapists kept telling me to patent the sling and get it out to the public because there were so many people out there that needed one. So I applied for a patent and put together a workshop to make them.

Over the years, many people have tried to make an arm support for patients with shoulder problems. For a sling to meet the needs of the patient, it has to conform to criteria considerations such as subluxation reduction, easily worn/put on, ability to wear under clothing comfortably, weight distribution, freedom of movement of both upper and lower parts of the arm while keeping the shoulder in place. Our sling meets all these requirements.

My sling starts with a comfortable arm support. I start with an elastic arm band with non-elastic cloth ends with elastic hook and loop fastening system for arm size and comfort . This is placed over the bicep of each arm. Each arm support has a strap permanently mounted on the top front and one strap grommet and one quick-release buckle mounted to the top rear.

The straps are made of semi-elastic material. The top 2 straps start in front of the shoulder and go over the shoulder, crossing each other in the top middle of the back, and the strap from the top front of each arm support connects to the opposite arm support at a point at the top of the arm pit in the back at the buckle so you can adjust the upward pull on the injured shoulder. The third strap runs across the back from arm pit to arm pit with a hook and loop adjustment for lateral support of the shoulder joint.”

If you, or somebody you know, have a subluxed shoulder, go to this site:

Scroll down to the bottom and that’s where you can buy the sling.

Even though I had my stroke 3 1/2 years ago, Robert, who communicates through the therapist, says it might help me restore my arm somewhat. My sling arrived today and I’ll report back to you in three months how it’s working out. As I often say, stay tuned!

*Editor’s note: Joyce has been using the sling for over a month now and says she is pain free!

Babies and Strokes

Babies and Strokes

This is a brain. It is also the unfortunate outcome of a baby whose mother experimented with cocaine, resulting in a premature birth and a bleed in the baby’s brain. A bleed in the brain means the baby had a stroke. Hey! Wait a minute! Babies and strokes don’t go together, or do they?

Note: for all you baby-makers out there, I’m not trying to scare you from having kids. This post is just a dose of reality.

You probably don’t know the name Duncan Guthrie. He started a charity in 1952 for his daughter, Janet, who had polio, and he was determined to find a cure for the disabling disease. With money funded by the charity, research, in time, led to the first oral polio vaccine which wiped out new cases of polio in the UK. Now called Action Medical Research, the charity encompasses so many other afflictions, and that leads us to babies and strokes. Read more…

The Cancer Scare

The Cancer Scare

I was scared of anything medical, even way before the stroke. I waited eleven years to get a sinus operation, ten years to get a colonoscopy, and eight years to get hearing aids. Then I broke my shoulder in December, but my upper arm was still swollen five months later. And, of course, I was worried. Could it be blood clots again, this time in my arm, closer to my heart? So I decided, at last, to take action. Five months. I’m improving with age.

I went to the local imaging center in May, a chain that specializes in mostly MRIs, CT scans, ultrasounds, and X-rays. The technician scanned my arm with an ultrasound and told me that I didn’t have clots. The doctor verified the result in a letter. But what no one told me was the technician went up too far and scanned my thyroid, too. A few weeks later, I got another letter, recommending a biopsy because my thyroid had eight nodules, seven of them too small to worry about. Read more…

If You Squeeze Them One More Time, I May Hurt You.

If You Squeeze Them One More Time, I May Hurt You.

There has to be a better way

Men basically have two things to worry about: erectile dysfunction and the prospect of prostrate cancer. Big deal. But most men don’t know what it takes to be a woman because they’ve never walked our mile. Permit me to elaborate: wearing a clumsy pad or a tampon that was pushed up too far while our 30+-year period continues to flow; achieving pregnancy with bipolar-ish hormones run through our veins; using itchy make-up, because it was the best buy, that was not tested on animals; losing our diaphragms somewhere, somehow, inside our bodies; experiencing the annual pap smear that will tell you if uterine cancer is in the cards; and, my personal favorite, getting a mammogram, especially after my stroke.

A mammogram is a bitch. Millions of women, including me, have to get a mammogram every year to detect, primarily, cancer and other breast disorders.

A mammography exam is a type of imaging that uses an x-ray, the low-dose type, to examine the breasts, called a mammogram, which is used to aid in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women. Read more…

Strokes: False Facts and a Quiz

Strokes: False Facts and a Quiz

By now, so many months later, I’ve heard mostly everything that has been said about strokes, including upsetting rumors, dreadful untruths, and uplifting myths. Let’s take these issues one at a time. The comments in parentheses are mine. I’ll give you examples, too, even though it’s sort of painful to do so. But, hey. I’m here to teach you about strokes, so I’m obligated. But it’s so hard to hear that stuff, from people who just don’t know.

Upsetting rumors

When I was at Rehab X, I overheard (yes, I was eavesdropping) two stroke patients conversing.
“Could I get worse than this?”
“Sure. I heard from a nurse that sometimes, a stroke can turn into measles.” (Measles come from a virus. The nurse doesn’t know jack! The scary thing is, why doesn’t she know?)

Or this one, heard from a CNA:
“If you don’t brush your hair regularly, you’ll lose most of it.” (Hair loss comes about for many different reasons, and one of them is trauma. Read more…

The Hospital Gown: Misguided and Malfunctioned

The Hospital Gown: Misguided and Malfunctioned

Country Music icon Trace Adkins sang “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” at the Grand Ole Opry when I was in Nashville about a decade ago. The music was hot, but the lyrics left me wondering about Trace:

It’s so hard not to stare
At that honky tonk badonkadonk
Keepin’ perfect rhythm
Make ya wanna swing along
Got it goin’ on
Like Donkey Kong
And whoo-wee
Shut my mouth, slap your grandma
There outta be a law
Get the Sheriff on the phone
Lord have mercy, how’d she even get them britches on
That honky tonk badonkadonk

So when crazy-as-a-loon, slap-your-grandma, meant-to-do-it Trace tweeted a picture of himself wearing a hospital gown when getting his kidney stones blasted (tweets are generated by Twitter for all of you who know how to get on Facebook and not much else), the hospital gown had its back open, allowing you to see Trace’s bootie. His comment in the tweet was, “@ Vanderbilt having kidneys stones busted. Read more…

The Fall, And I Don’t Mean the Season | The Tales of a Stroke Patient | Joyce Hoffman

The biggest problem I had was with my body not functioning like it used to. I wasn’t walking independently, and sitting on a regular chair was a challenge. But that’s what the wheelchair was for. I didn’t need to walk–yet, and the wheelchair forced me to sit upright, even if the staff had to strap me in. But all systems were “go,” if you got my drift, and that was one less thing to worry about.

It was in the beginning of the fourth week at Rehab X that I had a problem that I couldn’t surmount. It involved a CNA (no surprise there) and getting up in the middle of the night. Your first question would probably be, “What was I doing up in the middle of the night?”

But if you really thought about it for a nanosecond, you will probably come with the answer: I had to go to the bathroom, and that was because I kept hydrated all day, so afraid my “peeing” would stop working again. Read more…

ALERT: A Voyeur in the Nursing Home

I always wonder about people who do odd, compulsive things. Take voyeurism, for example. Voyeurism is French meaning “one who looks.” In popular wisdom, voyeurism occurs when somebody views or photographs or films others without their awareness. In common vernacular, voyeurism can be defined as “a peeping Tom.”

Now for some trivia on a non-trivial topic: In England, voyeurism became a criminal offense in 2004, if the subject didn’t know he or she was being viewed. In Canada, voyeurism became a sexual offense in 2005 by the same guidelines as England. In the United States, voyeurism can be both a criminal and sexual offense, and may have the guilty party register on the Sex Offenders List.

And there’s more. In Saudi Arabia, the sale of camera phones was banned for about a year because of non-consensual pics but reversed in 2005 only because cellular companies wouldn’t be able to offer complete 3G services if camera phones weren’t included. Read more…