Children of Stroke and Potty Training

By Jude Roberts, Staff Writer


Stroke is among the top ten causes of death in children.  The most common types of strokes in children are prenatal stroke (before birth), perinatal stroke (happening around the time of birth), and childhood stroke. Stroke in kids can be caused by cardiac disorders, clotting disorders (blood isnít coagulating properly), or even some types of infection. A child who has experienced a stroke may have difficulties with speech, language, learning, and with physical dexterity and coordination. Also, stroke in children is the most common cause of hemiplegia (paralysis on the same side of the body). It is thought that since a childís brain is still developing, that perhaps another area of the brain will take over for the damaged areas, enabling the child to be able to develop normally, both physically as well as intellectually. However, a child may still have some challenges ahead, such as potty training, if they are still experiencing any type of lingering paralysis.

Most parents look forward to the day when their children will be able to go to the bathroom by themselves. Itís not impossible for a child who has experienced a stroke to be taught how to go potty, but it may require a caregiver to be a little more creative and reflective. Before you begin potty training, consider the lack of sensation and muscle strength that your child may have. He or she may have difficulty controlling the muscles of the bladder and bowels, and also may not be able to actually feel the urge of having to go. You should patiently help the child become aware of what this sensation may feel like, while realizing that this will take time and practice, and that accidents are a part of the training process. When you sense that there are longer dry spells between diaper changes, and bowel movements are happening on a more consistent basis, these signs will let you know that the childís muscles are beginning to strengthen. While he or she is still wearing some sort of protection, begin helping them to practice pulling their pants up and down. The quicker they can take off their undergarments, the less likely it is that they will have an unexpected accident. Children can learn to do this with one hand by alternating from one side of the pants to the other. Try to stay away from pants that have zippers, buttons, or snaps. Itís best to get your child loose-fitting, elastic waist pants, jogging or sweat pants, which will give them the ability to get their pants up and down more easily by themselves.

Your child will have a lot to practice, and while they are doing so, you can begin investigating the different types of potty seats or chairs that are available. If your child is fairly young, you may want to invest in a potty chair that can rest on the floor, then, as the child improves, parts of the potty chair can be adapted to fit a regular-sized toilet, still giving your child a sense of security while on the ďbigĒ potty. Also, many potty seats and chairs come with rails on both sides, providing added security and safety. Be sure that toilet paper is placed in an easily accessible area so that it can be reached with their unaffected side. Another good idea that may help your child with their concentration and thought process is to continually use reminders or set a timer so that both of you will remember that itís time to try and go to the bathroom. Even if they donít actually go at that specific moment, the fact of when they should go will still be reinforced, as well as the idea of needing to use the potty instead of going in their diaper.

The most important thing to remember is not to place a lot of stress and/or expectations on yourself or on your child. Things happen, and sometimes, even after a child has been successfully potty trained, there will be times when accidents or regression may happen, especially after an illness or a change in the normal routine. Through offering your child constant reassurance and showing them how proud you are of them, youíll be teaching them more than just how to go to the bathroom; youíll be teaching them self-esteem and self-confidence as well, and these two characteristics will definitely last them a lifetime.

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