“Holding Me Back”: Living With Arthritis While Recovering From Stroke
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OBJECTIVE: To describe the experience of living with arthritis while recovering from stroke. DESIGN: Qualitative, phenomenological study. During the first three months post-stroke, 14 one-on-one semi-structured interviews were conducted. Analysis was guided by the modified van Kaam method. SETTING: General community. PARTICIPANTS: Three men and two women with self-reported pre-existing knee arthritis who were recovering from a first stroke. INTERVENTION: Not applicable. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Not applicable. RESULTS: "Holding me back" was central to the experience of living with knee arthritis while recovering from stroke, due to pain, mobility limitations, frustration, and additional coping demands. Experiencing arthritic pain occurred during daily physical activity. As a result, arthritis interfered with participants' ability to fully engage in stroke rehabilitation. The resulting mobility limitations due to arthritis were frustrating experiences that required additional coping strategies by all participants. CONCLUSIONS: From the perspective of the participants, the slowed recovery from stroke due to arthritis illustrated the need to consider the influence of knee arthritis on stroke recovery during inpatient rehabilitation and after discharge. Stroke rehabilitation interventions that emphasize weight-bearing exercise may not be tolerated by those with arthritis. Alternate pharmacological treatments and physical rehabilitation should be considered for people with pre-existing knee arthritis post-stroke.
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