Look No Hands! Stroke survivors can be as active as ever on the web

One of the UK's highest causes of disability is a Stroke. This article looks at what assistive technology can help those who survive a stroke.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke can affect people in different ways. It is caused by a blockage when blood can’t get to the brain. As a result part of the brain dies so it may affect movement on one side of your body. Other common symptoms of a stroke are aphasia (which affects speech and language), impair vision and cause muscle weakness.

For more information, you can read our FREE factsheet on stroke and computing.

Spotted quickly medical treatment can help save someone’s life. About 85% of strokes are caused by a blockage (ischaemic stroke) and about 15% are caused by a bleed (haemorrhage) in or around the brain.

If you spot the symptoms of a stroke, you should call 999 immediately. You can remember these signs with the mnemonic FAST:

FACE - Is the person's ace drooping on one side?
ARMS - can the person lift their arms up?
SPEECH - Is their speech affected?
TIME - call 999 immediately

How many people are affected?

  • Every year at least 15 million people are affected by strokes.
  • According to the Stroke Association, there are around 1.2 million stroke survivors in the UK.
  • More than half have been left with disabilities that affect their daily life.
  • Stroke is the largest cause of complex disability in adults.

These disabilities can range from loss of speech, paralysis and muscle weakness, difficulty understanding speech or writing, memory problems, all which can cause great difficulty performing everyday tasks.

Top tips for computing after a Stroke

Our factsheet on stroke and computing includes tips on assistive technology that can help people after a stroke, which includes information on Voice Output Communication Aids (VOCA), and how to adapt devices such as tablets and smartphones if you've had a stroke. 

If one side of the body is affected causing reduced finger and hand movement one of the solutions might be to use a smaller compact keyboard so you don’t have to reach from one side of the keyboard to the other.

Other solutions might be to use word prediction which means you can cut down on the amount of typing needed.

If your voice is still good then voice recognition might be a good idea. It also might be a really good idea to consider using alternative pointing devices which can be positioned correctly for the client.

Case Study

Ms Q rang on behalf of her Dad who is 85 and has had a stroke. He has lost his speech and is paralysed down the right-hand side. He’s right-handed too. We sent them some information about different sorts of one-handed keyboards that he could use effectively and we also sent some information about text to speech software so he could still make himself understood.

FREE webinar for stroke survivors and their carers

A stroke can impact in a number of ways. It is the commonest form of aphasia. People who are affected by aphasia, and can cause issues of cognitive and physical impairment and is a common cause of anxiety and depression.

Technology can be part of the solution. Our free webinar will showcase the Stroke Association's online tool My Stroke Guide, which offers information as well as access to peer support from other stroke survivors.

AbilityNet volunteer Lawrence Knight will be on hand to share his experiences of helping stroke survivors find solutions that can help them to adapt.

The webinar will take place on March 31 2020. Sign up to our free webinar for stroke survivors and their carers

How can we help?

  • My Computer My Way. A list of free hints and tips that you can use to make your time on the computer that bit easier www.abilitynet.org.uk/myway/
  • Call our free Helpline. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff will discuss any kind of computer problem and do their best to come up with a solution. We’re open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm on 0800 269 545.
  • We have a range of factsheets which talk in detail about technology that might help you, which can be downloaded for free www.abilitynet.org.uk/factsheets.
  • Arrange a home visit. We have a network of AbilityNet ITCanHelp volunteers who can help if you have technical issues with your computer systems. They can come to your home, or help you over the phone.

Look No Hands!

Help us raise money to help disabled people in 3 easy steps:

  • Donate Now! Text LOOK132 to 70070 without using your hands to donate £2 to our free services – try using your nose or toes!
  • Smile. Have someone take a picture of you trying to text without using your hands.
  • Share. Share the picture with us and your friends through Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram use #abilitynet #looknohands so we can keep track of your pictures.