Active family man
Like many men in their 30s, Espen is a father of two, and was living a fast-paced life.
On the night of New Year’s Eve 2015, something happened. He and his wife were visiting at another couple’s cabin when Espen felt awkward and began throwing up. His wife wondered if he could have had a stroke, which turned out to be just what happened. He had suffered a hemorrhagic stroke in the brain stem. They were unsure whether he would survive.
From being actively occupied with cycling, golf and playing with his children, the youngest of which being 11 months old at the time, he suddenly found himself unable to walk, speak or eat on his own. He was completely dependent on care from others.
“We celebrated the first birthday of the youngest at the hospital. But it was mostly just to have done it. Espen was completely exhausted.”
Stubbornness led to celebration and improvement
Being stubborn about celebrating that birthday nearly out of spite turns out to have been worth a great deal. After plenty of hard work and with the great aid of things like a stay at a rehabilitation center, he’s trained his way to climbing the stairs independently. And that takes willpower!
When Espen moved back home he slept in the downstairs living room, and in the summer of 2016 the couple were certain they would have to rebuild their house to move their bedroom downstairs.
A fortunate tip about the AssiStep stair climbing aid
Previously, he didn’t walk the stairs by himself. He needed to be accompanied. Often there had to be two of them in order to feel properly secure in helping him. With the help of the stair climbing aid AssiStep, he can now walk up and down the stairs as he sees fit.
It’s now been two and a half years since his stroke, and having previously been completely dependent on others, he can now be at home by himself without assistance.
“With the stair climbing aid AssiStep I can now walk all by myself. Previously, I would have to wait until the home assistance service came by to get aid. Now I can do it all on my own! And it’s very user friendly.”
Strokes and mobility
There are multiple ways a stroke can lead to movement difficulties, depending on the severity of the stroke and which regions of the brain are affected.
Typically, the symptoms affect only one side of the body, usually the opposite side of the affected part of the brain. For instance, hemiplegia and hemiparesis involve paralysis or weakness in one side of the body. Balance problems are common, and make steady walking difficult.
A stroke can affect the cerebral cortex, and one potential effect of this is apraxia, a motor disorder. One of many types of apraxia is called gait apraxia, which entails a loss of functioning in the lower limbs not due to motor or sensory function impairment.
The cerebellum is involved in movement coordination, and if this part of the brain is affected by a stroke, the sufferer may display ataxia, including symptoms like altered walking gait and vertigo.
Due to all these potential effects a stroke can have on mobility, walking can take great effort for the patient, who might have difficulties staying steady even on flat ground. Add to this the greater requirements for coordination and muscle strength for stair walking, as well as the risk of falling, and going up or down stairs can seem virtually impossible.
Mobility in daily life
An important part of rehabilitation after a has to do with a person’s ability to perform activities of daily living. Occupational and physical therapists are usually involved in this part of the process, helping the patient with regard to the skills and physical ability required to maintain or increase independence in daily life.
Functional mobility is something most people take for granted, until it is diminished for one reason or another. Being able to walk or otherwise move from one place to another is an essential part of your ability to take care of yourself. A diminution of this functioning can mean being effectively locked out of doing many things you expect being able to do without help.
Many stroke patients and people suffering from other disabilities and injuries experience a severe reduction in their ability to use stairs independently, even when they can walk quite well on flat ground. For someone living in a multi-story house, this can mean losing access to a large part of the home, or becoming dependent on other people’s help to get around. Therefore, any device or measure that lets someone climb the stairs on their own can mean a great increase in independence. For some, this could give them many additional years of living independently at home.