Thursday, April 14, 2016

Struggling with stroke-related impairments - invisible to the outside world?

Ever feel invisible?

Remember the movie (based on the book) "The Invisible Man" starring the great Claude Rains? Shows the down side of being invisible, you might say.

Now, what's that got to do with stroke survivors? It's those post-stroke impairments that aren't seen by much of the world - invisible. And there's a down side of that, too, that leads to a lack of understanding among co-workers and the world at large.

Physically, I was recovered to a large degree within days. But speech and fuzzy thinking took a while longer, and I'm still convinced that my speech still isn't quite right. But that's not so obvious - invisible, you might say, to much of the outside world. Not all - I had a great support network at church, home and work. Still, I can see how invisibility problems can happen.

So check out recent research about stroke survivors facing "invisible impairments" return to work:
On the online forums, some commenters described the problems with looking 'normal', but not feeling the same way and how this led to a lack understanding among co-workers, but also to their own sense of feeling a fraud.
Having a supportive employer helped people ease themselves back into work and enabled survivors to make adjustments, including a gradual return to work, reduced hours and working from home. But when employers were unsupportive, survivors found this particularly distressing and stressful; some posters even reported being bullied by colleagues.
Some commenters gave specific advice to others, such as recommending speaking to their GP, but awareness was low of what do and where to seek advice if stroke-related problems persisted long-term.
"Although a stroke survivor may look like they have recovered, they can be still be affected by invisible impairments that make work difficult," says Dr Anna De Simoni, a lecturer in Primary Care Research at QMUL and visiting researcher at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge.
"Conversations in the internet forums suggest we need to raise awareness of the support available to individuals, but also more widely amongst primary care professionals and employers of how they can best accommodate and support their staff."

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