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‘Somebody stuck me in a bag of sand’: Lived experiences of the altered and uncomfortable body after stroke

Stott, Hannah; Cramp, Mary; McClean, Stuart; Turton, Ailie


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Dr Hannah Stott
Occasional Associate Lecturer - HAS AHP

Mary Cramp
Portfolio Lead: Health and Social Wellbeing Research

Dr Stuart McClean
Associate Professor Public Health (Health & Wellbeing)

Ailie Turton
Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy


Objective: This study explored stroke survivors’ experiences of altered body perception, whether these perceptions cause discomfort, and the need for clinical interventions to improve comfort. Design: A qualitative phenomenological study. Setting: Participants’ homes. Participants: A purposive sample of 16 stroke survivors were recruited from community support groups. Participants (median: age 59; time post stroke >2 years), were at least six-months post-stroke, experiencing motor or sensory impairments and able to communicate verbally. Interventions: Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were analysed using an interpretive phenomenological approach and presented thematically. Results: Four themes or experiences were identified: Participants described (1) a body that did not exist; (2) a body hindered by strange sensations and distorted perceptions; (3) an uncontrollable body; and (4) a body isolated from social and clinical support. Discomfort was apparent in a physical and psychological sense and body experiences were difficult to comprehend and communicate to healthcare staff. Participants wished for interventions to improve their comfort but were doubtful that such treatments existed. Conclusion: Indications are that altered body perceptions cause multifaceted physical and psychosocial discomfort for stroke survivors. Discussions with patients about their personal perceptions and experiences of the body may facilitate better understanding and management to improve comfort after stroke.


Stott, H., Cramp, M., McClean, S., & Turton, A. (2021). ‘Somebody stuck me in a bag of sand’: Lived experiences of the altered and uncomfortable body after stroke. Clinical Rehabilitation, 35(9), 1348-1359.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 12, 2021
Online Publication Date Mar 11, 2021
Publication Date Sep 1, 2021
Deposit Date Mar 15, 2021
Publicly Available Date Aug 18, 2021
Journal Clinical Rehabilitation
Print ISSN 0269-2155
Electronic ISSN 1477-0873
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 35
Issue 9
Pages 1348-1359
Keywords Altered perception; Body perception; Embodiment; Stroke; Comfort
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