Content » Vol 50, Issue 1

Original report

Upper-limb sensory impairments after stroke: Self-reported experiences of daily life and rehabilitation

Håkan Carlsson, Gunvor Gard, Christina Brogårdh
Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine, Skåne University Hospital, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden. E-mail:
DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2282


Objective: To describe stroke survivors’ experiences of sensory impairment in the upper limb, the influence of such impairment on daily life, coping strategies used, and sensory training for the affected hand.
Design: A qualitative study with a content analysis approach.
Subjects: Fifteen post-stroke patients interviewed individually.
Results: Five categories emerged from the data: “Changed and varied perception of the sensation”; “Affected movement control”; “Problems using the hand in daily life”; “Various strategies to cope with upper limb disability”; and “Lack of sensory training”. Numbness and tingling, changes in temperature sensitivity, and increased sensitivity to touch and pain were reported. Many subjects had difficulty adjusting their grip force and performing movements with precision. It was problematic and mentally fatiguing managing personal care and carrying out household and leisure activities. Practical adaptations, compensation with vision, increased concentration, and use of the less affected hand were strategies used to overcome difficulties. Despite their problems very few subjects had received any specific sensory training for the hand.
Conclusion: Stroke survivors perceive that sensory impairment of the upper limb has a highly negative impact on daily life, but specific rehabilitation for the upper limb is lacking. These findings imply that the clinical management of upper limb sensory impairment after stroke requires more attention.

Lay Abstract

Sensory impairments of the upper limb are common after stroke. Despite this, few studies have explored how the persons affected experience that the impairments influence daily life. In this study, 15 stroke survivors were interviewed. They described a changed and varied perception of their sensation, reduced ability to move the arm, and problems to use the hand in many everyday activities. Few had received any specific sensory training for the hand. These findings indicate that sensory impairments of the hand affect daily life to a great extent and need more attention in stroke rehabilitation.


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