QOL Check

Is Spasticity From Stroke Interfering With Your Life?

Lady with caneLast month the National Stroke Association launched a mini-campaign to celebrate International Quality of Life month. The organization’s goal was to raise awareness about spasticity and advocate for a better quality of life following stroke through its Faces of Stroke campaign.

Julie Hyman, a Faces of Stroke ambassador, shared her story. At age 37, Hyman had a stroke. In the midst of juggling home, family and work, she ignored the warning signs of stroke because she thought she was too young to have symptoms.

The stroke left Hyman paralyzed on her left side with use of only one hand. She experienced spasticity, a condition in which muscles become tight and stiff and are difficult to move or control. Spasticity can affect the arms, fingers or legs. As muscles resist stretching, the arm can press against the chest, the knee can stiffen or the foot can point and interfere with walking. Many times people with spasticity experience painful muscle spasms.

"Relearning how to do simple things like buttoning my shirt were major challenges,” Hyman says. “Washing dishes, doing laundry and preparing meals were almost impossible."

Through rehabilitation and therapy, Hyman learned strategies such as “think-plan-act" to assist every action. Still, her recovery was slow and challenging and her spasticity did not improve. Hyman finally consulted her physician to see what options she had.

"After much trial and error—and through the help of my doctor—I found a treatment that works for me," Hyman said.

According to the National Stroke Association, nearly 60 percent of people with stroke experience spasticity. Many treatments exist for spasticity, including physical and occupational rehabilitation, stretching, oral medications, nerve block injections, surgery and Intrathecal Baclofen Pump (ITB therapy).

Find out more about Hyman, spasticity treatments and post-stroke recovery here.