Different Strokes

Books / Further Reading

You may be interested in the following books, many of which have been written by stroke survivors about their personal experiences.  They have been reviewed by stroke survivors.  

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List prices quoted are correct May 2012

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Stronger After Stroke - by Peter G Levine
ISBN 978-1932603743.
Published by Demos, RRP £13.00 buy here

Stronger After Stroke’Stronger after Stroke’ contains useful information and guidance on post-stroke physical recovery. Although aimed primarily at stroke survivors it may also be useful to families and carers as it outlines what they may expect for a loved one as they take on the challenge of physically recovering from stroke. 

Even the title of the book hints at the challenge to be undertaken in order to make a good recovery: to become stronger involves a long and concerted effort on behalf of the stroke survivor. Self-motivation and partnership working with health professionals are two of the recommendations for recovery.

The concept of brain plasticity and the ability for new pathways to be formed are clearly explained and give hope to stroke survivors who may have reached a plateau in recovery. Indeed, the very idea of a plateau is challenged using comparisons with training athletes. When an athlete reaches a plateau they look for new training methods, the stroke survivor needs to take a leaf out of the athlete’s training manual.

There are good explanations of spasticity and shoulder pain as well; issues of importance to many stroke survivors. For rehabilitation to be optimised it must carry on when formal therapy is not available, for example, after leaving hospital (or even in hospital as therapy is normally only provided for an hour or two per day, and sometimes not at all on weekends). However, it recommends that all self directed therapy be discussed with therapists or doctors to ensure that it is carried out safely and for maximum benefit. Tools to support physical therapy are well explained – from the simple ones, like using a mirror to help fool the brain into thinking the affected side is acting normally – to more complicated robotic devices to assist arm or hand movement.

‘Stronger after Stroke’ was written primarily for an American audience so some references, for example to Medicare, are not relevant: however, the excellent advice on physical recovery more than makes up for this. Also, it does not deal directly with the emotional upheaval of stroke but there is a useful section on motivation through increasing meaningfulness of any goals. Despite this, the book is well worth a read to increase understanding of stroke’s effect on the brain and to help motivate recovery.

Book review by Christine Stock

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