Stroke patients may benefit from new routines

Stroke patients may benefit from new routines
After a stroke, a bicycle ride can be an obstacle

People who have suffered a stroke often experience severe fatigue. But doctors find it hard to help these patients as their experiences of fatigue may not necessarily be caused by physiological problems. New research from University of Copenhagen suggests that dreams of returning to everyday life as it was before the stroke may contribute to the patients' experiences of fatigue and that it may be a help to establish new routines instead of trying to regain old ones.

"Having a stroke can be a devastating experience, and those affected by one often feel that their lives are turned upside down. For many , life after a stroke is therefore about reestablishing life as it was before the stroke. But this is very rarely possible and thus a source of frustration for ," says ethnologist Michael Andersen from University of Copenhagen who has interviewed a number of patients experiencing severe after a stroke.

Michael Andersen's PhD thesis was carried out in collaboration with a Danish hospital, where doctors found it hard to find a correlation between the size or the impact of the stroke and the individual experiences of fatigue. Michael Andersen located other potential reasons for the fatigue than the patients' brains – their everyday lives.

Fatigue linked to objects or actions

When interviewing the patients Michael Andersen noticed that they no longer related their fatigue to the same objects or actions as they did pre-stroke.

"In our everyday lives we link fatigue with specific objects or actions which we hardly even notice; it can be a bed or making a cup of tea in the evening. After a stroke, many patients feel constantly fatigued without being able to locate it," Michael Andersen explains.

According to Michael Andersen, locating fatigue in other objects and actions than before can be a successful approach when trying to restore an – not the same as before, but a completely new one.

"I interviewed a woman who felt extremely fatigued after her stroke. She noticed that if she locked her bicycle when she came home from shopping, she would fall asleep on the couch and not get out the door again that day. So the specific action of locking her bicycle became a signal of fatigue. She then realised that if she did not lock her bicycle, she would be able to do more. She thus had a way of coping with her fatigue," Michael Andersen says.

Michael Andersen suggests that patients might learn to cope with their fatigue if they – in collaboration with their own doctor – learned to think of fatigue in relation to specific objects or actions. This could frame the patients' fatigue so it does not become a phenomenon defining their lives

The thesis is part of the cross-disciplinary research project Centre for Healthy Aging, which is funded by Nordea-fonden.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sleep apnea plays dual role in stroke

Oct 02, 2012

Improvements to the diagnosis and screening of sleep apnea are critical to stroke prevention, according to new stroke care guidelines released today at the Canadian Stroke Congress.

Recommended for you

Lebanon reports first suspected case of Ebola

41 minutes ago

A Lebanese man who arrived from West Africa is suspected of having Ebola and was quarantined on Thursday in a Beirut hospital, the first such suspected case in the country, Lebanon's health minister said.

New, faster therapeutic hypothermia techniques

56 minutes ago

Rapid lowering of body temperature following an acute myocardial infarction (MI) can be an effective therapeutic strategy to minimize damage to the heart muscle caused by the loss and restoration of blood ...

Sri Lanka celebrates two years without malaria

5 hours ago

Sri Lanka has not reported a local case of malaria since October 2012, according to the Sri Lankan Anti-Malarial Campaign. If it can remain malaria-free for one more year, the country will be eligible to apply to the World ...

User comments