What happens to your shoulder because of the stroke?

Or, is your arm going to fall off because the shoulder is not working from the stroke?

When I was walking after the two strokes I had over 11 years ago, the shoulder was the least of my concerns. I wanted to walk again without all the darn contraptions they would strap on me to get me to walk. Thankfully, I progressed beyond them and started to walk without assistance. I think that took about 5 months to reach that goal.

I am “blessed” with the motor control on the right side. I started to be concerned about my right shoulder joint around the five or six months of my recovery. I learned that my shoulder joint (the glenohumeral joint) was subluxated (out of the joint). It still is. This joint has a wider range of motion than other joints. In order to achieve the motion, the shoulder joint uses the muscles around the area to keep the shoulder strong and stable. When a change in normal muscular function occurs after a stroke, this allows the subluxation. And no, your arm is NOT going to fall off because of the stroke!

The subluxation can lead to a frozen shoulder, impinged shoulder, reduced muscle sensation (proprioception), and pain in your shoulder. All not good! If you notice anything with your affected shoulder, get it checked out by a doctor. One of my doctors is a physiatrist. That really means a Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation doctor. A physiatrist is shorter and sounds fancier! I was having some shoulder pain in my non-affected side. He recommended some exercises and it helped. He stressed how concerned he was. He said that if I needed a shoulder surgery on my non-affected side, I would be in trouble while it healed (typically about four to six months). Not a pretty picture!

Shoulder braces, slings, exercises, electrical stimulation, and/or medication may be used to ease the symptoms and/or pain. I eventually decided to use a sling (GivMohr Sling) to attempt to reduce the effect of gravity on my shoulder joint. I used the sling for about two to three years. For no good reason, I just stopped using it and let my arm flail around. In hindsight, I have not paid too much attention to my right shoulder and arm. It is without pain, so I was satisfied with the status quo.

I looked at the electrical stimulation by a company called Saebo. It is founded by Henry Hoffman, MS, OTR/L. He has his Masters in occupational therapy. They are innovative and introduce new and affordable gadgets to help deal with the aftermath of strokes. If electrical stimulation is part of your stroke patient’s rehabilitation program, the Saebo MyoTrac Infiniti (SMTI) is a portable, digital tool designed to use electrical stimulation technology to prevent or slow down muscle weakness, improve motor impairment, and re-educate and strengthen weakened muscles. The SMTI uses biofeedback to improve the shoulder joint. I briefly considered it. I did not use it when they introduced it. I was tired of using one more item or technique that costs time and money. 

If you are in the same place as I am, then this post will fire up your interest in doing something proactive for your shoulder. I am going to do some of the exercises recommended by Saebo, Flint Rehab, and other reputable sources. I will look around and if I find something interesting, I will do a post at a later time.

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