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Comfortably numb? Experiences of people with stroke and lower limb sensation deficits: impact and solutions.

  • Luckie, Helen1
  • Hollands, Kristen2
  • Williamson, Tracey3
  • Nester, Chris2
  • Williams, Anita2
  • 1 Department of Allied Health Professions, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK.
  • 2 School of Health and Society, University of Salford, Salford, UK.
  • 3 School of Allied Health and Community, University of Worcester, Worcester, UK.
Published Article
Disability and rehabilitation. Assistive technology
Publication Date
Apr 01, 2021
DOI: 10.1080/17483107.2019.1673490
PMID: 31597494


To explore personal experiences of loss of foot sensation following stroke in order to inform the focus of clinical assessments and development of a vibrotactile insole. Qualitative design with an interpretive phenomenological approach to data collection and analysis. Eight community dwelling adults with stroke (>6 months) and sensory impairment in the feet participated. Data was collected via conversational style interviews which were transcribed and analyzed using a thematic framework. Themes were verified with co-researchers and a lay advisory group. Data formed four themes: Sensory deficits are prevalent and constant, but individual and variable; Sensory deficits have a direct impact on balance, gait, mobility and falls; Sensory deficits have consequences for peoples' lives; Footwear is the link between function, the environment and identity. They embraced the concept of discrete vibrotactile insoles, their potential benefits and demonstrated a willingness to try it. Sensory deficit contributes to effects upon physical function, mobility and activity. Clinical outcome measures need to capture the emotional, psychological and social impacts of sensory deficit. Participants demonstrated a resilience and resourcefulness through adaption in daily living and self-management of footwear. The participants focus on footwear provides the opportunity to develop discrete and non-burdensome vibrotactile insoles for this patient group.IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATIONSensory deficits are wide ranging and varied and are not distinct from motor deficits though contribute to the overall effect on physical function, mobility and activity.The physical effects impact on participants' lives emotionally, psychologically and socially. Measurement of outcomes need to capture specific activities that are valued by patients.The participants have revealed resilience and resourcefulness to create a "new normal" for their lives through adaption and self-management with a focus being on footwear as a solution.The participants have revealed the need for insole interventions to be discreet and non-burdensome, welcoming insole technology and contributing to the design and features of such insoles.

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