Using your computer after a Stroke

Imagine for a moment that you couldn’t use one side of your body.  Your foot, leg, arm, or hand all stop working - sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently.  This is how a stroke might affect you. Strokes happen when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, or is blocked. It also might affect the ability to communicate and process information. It's a devastating blow, but the good news is that there is a lot of technology that can help you.

Winston Spencer ChurchillHow many people in the UK are affected by Strokes?

According to the Stroke Association there are approximately 152,000 strokes in the UK. That's one stroke every three and a half minutes.Famous people who have suffered a stroke include BBC TV presenter Andrew Marr, and former prime minister Winston Churchill.

Common questions about using a computer after a Stroke

I have issues with hitting the wrong keys on the keyboard - is there anything out there that can help me?

There are a lot of alternative keyboards available. Some have really large keys so that it’s easier for someone to identify and hit the key they want. Some keyboards are very small so this makes them easier to use for someone with poor mobility. Both types of keyboards can be fitted with a keyguard and this makes it harder to hit two keys at once.

I find it really difficult to use the mouse as it is too fast for me. Can you tell me how to slow it down?

You can easily slow the mouse down by going into Ease of Access within the Windows Control Panel and then slowing down the mouse. You can configure the speed of your mouse to your own requirements.

Apple's System Preferences can be found in the apple menu

You can do the same on a Mac by opening System preferences and clicking on the Mouse options.

I sometimes find it difficult to hold two keys down at once. How can you help?

Built into every new computer whether it is a Mac or a Windows PC is a really useful freebie. It’s called Sticky Keys and means that if you want a capital letter you can just hit SHIFT and then hit the letter that you want and then hit SHIFT again to turn this function off (

My Mum has difficulties making herself understood since her stroke but she can use the keyboard. Is there any technology that can help?

Software such as Natural Readers for Windows Computers or the Mac’s inbuilt Voiceover technology can certainly help with small pieces of text being spoken out. 

There are also a lot of dedicated communication software packages available if your needs are greater. One example is Proloquo2go.

Using a tablet computer or smartphone may also help as they also include Virtual Assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant or Cortana that can repsond to commands and dictate messages.

Take a look at our webinar about How to Control Your Computer With your Voice for more details about the options.

Case Study

Jane's mum Gloria has had a stroke and now she finds it difficult to communicate with her grandchildren. We've steered her towards some software that will help her "speak" her thoughts.  Gloria has some memory problems too so we've explained that there is software available that can help with reminding you about important tasks.

How can we help?

AbilityNet provides a range of free services to help disabled people and older people.

  • Call our free Helpline. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff will discuss any kind of computer problem and do their best to come up with a solution. We’re open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm on 0800 269 545.
  • Arrange a home visit. We have a network of AbilityNet ITCanHelp volunteers who can help if you have technical issues with your computer systems. They can come to your home, or help you over the phone.
  • We have a range of factsheets which talk in detail about technology that might help you, which can be downloaded for free. You may find our factsheets about voice recognition and keyboard alternatives useful.
  • My Computer My Way. A free interactive guide to all the accessibility features built into current desktops, laptops, tables and smartphones.