Adapting the Home after a Stroke

HomeWhen a stroke patient returns home, the home environment can impact a person’s recovery. The home includes the social and cultural environment such as the people who live there, as well as the physical aspects of the home such as steps and layout. It is important that the home environment be one that supports continuing recovery and safety for the patient. This site is intended to provide basic information to stroke survivors and their families about potential problems with the physical aspects of the home.

The effects of a stroke are different for everyone, depending on the part of the brain injured, how bad the injury is, and the person’s general health. Effects such as weakness, paralysis, problems with balance or coordination, pain or numbness, problems with memory or thinking, tiredness, and problems with bladder or bowel control can all change the way a person functions in the home. It is a good idea for the patient to have a trial visit at home before they are discharged from the hospital so that changes and corrections can be made before returning home. Some disabilities may not be noticed until the stroke survivor returns to daily tasks. Since each person is unique, changes to the home are most effective when they meet one’s specific needs. A professional occupational therapist, available through most hospitals, medical centers, and community clinics, can help to determine the best home modifications to suit your situation. The suggestions and options presented here are very general and are intended to guide you in seeking professional assistance.

The information in this section is organized by rooms in the home. Although many of the suggestions seem simple, the effects of such alterations have the potential to greatly increase the safety, independence, and general comfort level of the stroke patient.

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Credits

This section was developed by the Internet Stroke Center and the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine. The research and writing for this site was prepared by Dory Sabata (currently a program specialist at the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology at the University of Southern California), with additional contributions from Laura Butler of the Internet Stroke Center.

Additional Contributors

M. Carolyn Baum, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Director, Program in Occupational Therapy
Washington University School of Medicine

Dorothy Edwards, PhD
Associate Professor of Occupational Therapy and Neurology
Washington University School of Medicine

Susan Stark, PhD, OTR/L
Instructor in the Program in Occupational Therapy
Washington University School of Medicine

Mark Goldberg, MD
Professor and Chair, Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics; Director, Internet Stroke Center
UT Southwestern Medical Center

Julie Westre
Program Director, Stroke Caregiver Support Program,
Washington University School of Medicine