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A guide to gifts for survivors of brain injury & stroke (and the clinicians who care for them!)

Constant Therapy | Traumatic brain injury, Stroke

We’ve updated one of our most popular posts… and included gifts for the speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and other clinicians who care for survivors of stroke and brain injury, and those living with aphasia, Alzheimer’s, and other neurological conditions.

To simplify your gift list during the holidays – or any time of year – we asked our on-staff clinicians what kinds of things they’d recommend giving to someone who is recovering from a stroke or brain injury (and what’s on their wish lists for themselves too!) We’ve created this list of 14 gift ideas that may help improve the quality of life for your loved one. These suggestions range from tools that can help make life more comfortable, to remarkable books written by individuals recovering from brain injury to services that can assist with daily living activities. (Note: aside from Constant Therapy, we do not derive any benefit from purchases of the products mentioned here.)

  1. Constant Therapy
    Ok, shameless promotion, but we believe 100% in the efficacy of our product! Constant Therapy is an award-winning cognitive, language, and speech therapy mobile app that delivers customized, science-based tasks that help improve skills and rebuild confidence during stroke and brain injury recovery or for those living with dementia or communication disorders. Monthly subscriptions are available for iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Chromebooks and Android tablets.
  2. Mindfulness cards
    Anxiety can be common in post-stroke/brain injury recovery and can lead to fatigue and added difficulty with communication. Meditation and mindfulness can help relieve anxiety, and this deck of cards with mindfulness exercises right on them could be just the right gift for someone who wants to try meditation but doesn’t know where to start.
  3. Weighted blanket
    For further help with anxiety, weighted blankets are heavy blankets filled with material that provides firm but gentle pressure. They’ve been found to have a calming effect that eases stress and aids sleep. You can find weighted blankets in many colors and styles at drug stores, or online stores. Here’s one that one of our on-staff clinicians recommends.
  4. Eye mask
    When survivors of head injury experience extra movement around them or bright lights, it can be too much information for the brain to process, and sensory overload can occur and result in increased anxiety. Sometimes, the best thing to do is take a break away from the light with a comfortable eye mask. You can find reasonably-priced eye masks in drugstores or online stores like Amazon. (And skip the scented masks – often the simplest gifts are the best.)
  5. Noise-blocking headphones
    Like too much light, too much noise can also be distracting and cause sensory overload for survivors of brain injury. Therefore, a good pair of noise-canceling headphones can be a comfort in situations that are prone to over-stimulation – either for listening to soothing music or just being quiet. You can find noise-canceling headphones at stores that carry electronics or online. 
  6. Adaptive eating utensils
    Sometimes after a brain injury or a stroke, it can be hard to hold or balance food on regular utensils. There are clever adaptive utensils available to aid the process and help you feel more independent during mealtimes – some help stabilize your hands, others have a broader grip, and still others have curved handles to help with fine motor coordination. You can ask your clinician for recommendations on where to purchase, or type “adaptive eating utensils” into the search bar of a large online store like amazon.
  7. Books about living with stroke or brain injury
    Have you heard about 13-year-old Marina Ganetsky’s inspiring stroke recovery story? If not, Marina wrote a book about it, Or So They Thought: A True Story, that would be a great gift for anyone in your life! Two of our other favorites are A Stitch in Time by Lauren Marks and Relentless: How a Massive Stroke Changed My Life for the Better by Ted Baxter, which are also written by survivors who tell their remarkable stories in an approachable and inspiring way. (And it’s always validating to know that others are going through similar challenges as you.) We also recommend Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke by Debra Meyerson, a survivor of stroke and founder of Stroke Onward, a nonprofit dedicated to providing stroke survivors with resources.
  8. Planner
    Staying organized is critical but can be challenging for someone with a brain injury or living with a neurological disorder. A planner that helps with to-do lists, priorities, notes, and daily planning can be a life-saver. 
  9. Uber / Lyft gift card or pre-paid local bus pass
    Some survivors aren’t able to drive and must rely on friends and family to get to appointments or to do errands. The gift of transportation is a good way to promote a feeling of independence – and potentially provide a little break for a caregiver too. You can find these cards on the rack with other gift cards at most general merchandise stores or buy them directly online. 
  10. Subscription to regular meal service or food delivery gift cards
    Similar to a transportation gift card, giving the gift of meal delivery is a wonderful way to help make life easier (and again, provide a break for caregivers) There are ready-made weekly meal subscription services (here’s a list of some of the best), or you can give a Grubhub or DoorDash gift card so that the recipient can order meals from their favorite local restaurant. (For a double-duty gift, if you give an Uber gift card, the recipient can also use it to order take-out through UberEats!)

For speech-language pathologists

  1. A donation in the recipient’s name
    Whether it is an organization that promotes awareness of stroke or brain injury, like SameYou, the American Stroke Association, or the Brain Injury Association of America, or any other relevant organization, making a donation in the name of your favorite clinician is always a meaningful, lasting and sure-to-be-appreciated gift.
  2. Gift cards
    Our on-staff clinicians told us they really appreciate gift cards for coffee stores, favorite restaurants, online stores like Amazon or Etsy, or office supply stores like Staples. You can find these cards on the rack with other gift cards at most general merchandise stores or drug stores. 
  3. Planner
    Clinicians also need to stay organized and a good planner can certainly help with that. There are planners created especially for clinicians, but as we said above, any carefully researched planner would work also.
  4. Handwritten card
    In the end, our on-staff clinicians said the gifts they love the most, year after year, are simple, handwritten cards letting them know that their care is appreciated.

What’s on your list? Tell us in the comments.

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