Following a brain injury, such as a stroke, many individuals experience residual weakness or paralysis on one side of the body (NINDS, April 21, 2003; Volume II, Chapter 36). To compensate for lower-extremity weakness, devices such as an ankle-foot orthosis provide extra stability to the affected limb and allow for a safer gait pattern. Similarly, an upper extremity may be weak or paralyzed. Assistive devices can compensate for the functional loss of the impaired limb. These devices enable a person to use one hand to complete tasks that typically require two hands, such as cutting food with a knife, buttoning a shirt, brushing dentures, tying a shoe, flossing teeth, preparing food, using a walker, and using a wheelchair. A variety of devices available to accomplish these tasks using one hand are discussed later in this chapter.
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