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After a stroke, patients can regain a sense of power by helping to take care of themselves. Many can learn ways to manage a lack of bowel and bladder control. And using impaired arms and legs to bathe and dress helps patients regain muscle strength. In fact, daily use of affected hands often helps bring back function. As the function improves, the patient should get as much encouragement as possible.
A stroke may take away your loved one’s bladder and bowel control. The problem may seem worse if he or she can’t walk to the bathroom alone or ask for help. Nurses can help you and the patient find a way to manage the problem. They may suggest:
Taking the patient to the toilet at set times. You might try every 2 hours to 3 hours.
Providing a bedside commode for use at night.
Using absorbent briefs.
With the help of occupational therapists, patients learn new ways to bathe and dress. Your loved one may be taught to:
Test water temperature with a hand or foot that was not affected by the stroke.
Use grab bars, a shower seat, a hand-held shower, and a long-handled brush.
Dress while sitting, starting with the affected side or limb.
Wear shirts with snaps or Velcro closures. Use zippers with loops attached to them. Sweat pants or skirts with elastic waistbands may also be suggested.
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