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.
If you spot the symptoms of a stroke which are FAST you should call 999 immediately:

  • Face-does the face droop on one side.
  • Arms-can the person lift their arms up.
  • Speech-is their speech affected.
  • Time-It’s time to call 999 quickly.

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.

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

Top tips for computing after a Stroke

What assistive technology would be useful for a person who is recovering from or had a stroke? It is really difficult to give a general view on what IT can be used for people with strokes as everyone can be affected in different ways. 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.

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.