When we are healthy, we tend to take some things for granted. But after a stroke, you might be suffering from deficits that make simple activities challenging. Grooming is one of these daily needs that has a huge impact on our self-confidence and health. If we can’t take care of ourselves, we can get sicker and become more dependent on others. So how can we get better and get our independence back?
When we go to rehab, we usually don’t focus on things like grooming. We’re so wrapped up in trying to get up and moving that we forget about other needs we may face. It turns out there are a lot of things we can do to improve our ability to groom ourselves? Recent research from Japan can tell us more.
Rehab can help us with our personal hygiene
Scientists from Japan recently studied the relationship between specific functional abilities and personal hygiene. They wanted to see how some functions may influence a patient’s ability to clean themselves. By determining which movements are related to this activity, they can focus on training these in rehab.
Seventy-five stroke survivors participated in their study. They looked at things related to balance, arm function, grip strength, and coordination. They chose to look at tasks that are likely involved with having to reach for a comb or brush, and skills that allow for proper grooming like brushing your teeth. It’s pretty tough to comb your hair if you can’t even lift your arm off of your bed! On top of that, they assessed cognition since some of our grooming practices, like putting on makeup or shaving, take a certain level of thought.
Stay balanced, motivated, and have a good arm
They found that the most important functions that are related to grooming are the function of at least one arm, good overall balance, and a motivated mindset. Arm function and motivation seem obvious, but why might balance have such an important role? One reason is that we need our balance to reach for tools, like a towel or hairbrush. Without balance, we might not be able to reach the items we need. Interestingly, it’s not that bad for your grooming if one of your arms is weak. That’s because we can do most of our grooming tasks with just one working arm.
It’s not the time to let yourself go
So what did we learn from this study? We now know things we can work on in rehab to get one step closer to independence. Who doesn’t want to look like a million bucks anyhow? One way to get better at grooming is to organize your recovery plan into concrete goals, so you can start re-learning how to take care of your own hygiene and appearance. Try to stay positive so you don’t lose motivation. Working with a good therapist who can praise you well and lift your spirits can make a huge difference here! Keep on working on your balance too, so you can soon reach those items in your bathroom cabinet. It’s not the time to let yourself go, so start working today on regaining that brilliant smile and shiny hair!
The lead author of this study was Takaaki Fujita, Department of Rehabilitation, Faculty of Health Sciences, Tohoku Fukushi University, Sendai, Japan