Which type of couch is easier to stand up from? Soft cushions or more supportive?

1 answer | Last updated: Nov 23, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My husband had two small strokes about eight months ago. He's very stiff and has a hard time standing up from a seated position. He sits on the couch 90 percent of the day and night and uses his laptop computer. I have to buy a couch soon and don't know what kind of couch is best for someone such as my husband. Should it be very cushioned or more supportive? Any comment would be much appreciated.

Expert Answers

Cleo Hutton, a survivor of two strokes, is coauthor of Striking Back at Stroke: A Doctor-Patient Journal , and author of After a Stroke: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier , a daily step-by-step guide for furthering stroke recovery at home.

First, ask the neurologist or physician presently caring for your husband if a specialized chair, or lift chair, is necessary. If the answer is "yes," the physician may write a prescription for the equipment and insurance may cover a portion of the expense.

Second, your husband may need physical therapy to increase muscle activity, endurance, and build strength. Ask your husband's physician for a prescribed plan of activity, physical therapy as needed, or exercise regimen.
Third, depression is a very real concern post-stroke. Your husbands' physician should be notified of your husbands' change in personality or lack of interest in other activities. Medication, exercise, or both may be prescribed to assist him through a condition called "emotional lability."

If your husband's lack of physical activity is due to his own choice to as you say, "sit on the couch 90 percent of the day and night and use his laptop computer," the brain may not be able to reconstruct new pathways of information to idle body parts. This lack of activity and prolonged sitting, if continued persistently, may lead to muscle constrictions, low blood pressure, low heart rate, and possible blood clotting. This is one very important reason that rehabilitation centers attempt to get stroke survivors on their feet and walking as soon as the patient is medically stable.

Using the computer is a tremendous technical tool for stroke recovery, but it should be used in conjunction with physical activity that balances total stroke recovery. The old saying "use it or lose it" definitely applies to stroke recovery.

In my book After a Stroke: 300 Tips for Making Life Easier, there's a section that addresses Tips for Using a Computer and Tips for a Home Office. But there is no simple way to recover after a stroke. All activities, therapies, techniques, and recommendations should be reviewed with your stroke team to implement the best plan towards your personal recovery program.