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CP: Learning to dress with hemiplegia?

RaeWitterRaeWitter Posts: 15Member Connected
Hi all! New here! Just wondered if anybody had any tips on teaching somebody with hemiplegia to dress! My son is 6 and has CP that affects his right limbs so he finds things such as dressing impossible. We want to start helping him dress and undress. Would really appreciate any tips as he has such a desire to be independent! Thanks, Rae


  • StayceStayce Posts: 270Member Pioneering
    edited October 2018
    Hi @RaeWitter

    From my experience it will be easier if you encourage your son to put his unaffected side in the clothing item first e.g. left arm in a shirt or coat first or left leg in trouser leg first and then follow through with the right affected side.

    Others suggest it is easier to put the affected side in clothing first when dressing, see links below, but I personally have not found this myself 

    Is there a particular item of clothing that is especially difficult? 

    You might also find these suggestions helpful from the charity  Hemihelp on dressing and shoelaces 


  • RaeWitterRaeWitter Posts: 15Member Connected
    Hi @Stayce

    Thank you so much for this I will have a look at those links. When I am dressing him it's easier to put the affected side in first. However trying to teach him to dress himself this is not proving useful. We have mastered taking off shoes, socks and splints now I want to move on to coats, trousers and jumpers! I will definitely try encouraging him to put his unaffected side in first and following through with the left. 

    Thanks again!x
  • Pippa_ScopePippa_Scope Posts: 5,858Member Disability Gamechanger
    Welcome to the community, @RaeWitter!

    Glad to see you've had some guidance already, and hopefully others will be able to share their thoughts too. I wonder if there's anything @Jean_Scope could suggest?
  • RaeWitterRaeWitter Posts: 15Member Connected
    Thanks Pippa! Yes any further suggestions are most welcome, so I can try out a variety of techniques and see what works best! :)
  • Richard_ScopeRichard_Scope Posts: 1,484Administrator Scope community team
    Good to meet you! I have quadriplegia with a dominant/less affected side. I was always taught to put my less affected arm into jackets and shirts etc.
    Over time you do find your own shortcuts and ways of doing things.

    Specialist Information Officer - Cerebral Palsy
  • RaeWitterRaeWitter Posts: 15Member Connected
    Thanks @Richard_Scope that is very helpful!!! So for tops would you put your less affected side in first and then over the head and finally the affected arm? Or both arms first and then over the head? Also for undressing..which side comes out first? Woukd you recommend any dressing aids such as the things you can buy to put socks on? Or woukd you advise trying without them first? :)
  • Richard_ScopeRichard_Scope Posts: 1,484Administrator Scope community team
    Yes, for tops and jackets I was taught to put the less affected side in first and then the more affected arm. I could never do both arms at once then over the head method.
    To take tops off I use my better arm to pull the top over my head first.
    There are dressing aids out there. There would be no harm in trying without them first. I have always struggled to use them but everybody's Cerebral Palsy is different.

    Specialist Information Officer - Cerebral Palsy
  • Jean_OTJean_OT Posts: 532Volunteer community advisor Pioneering
    Hi @RaeWitter ;

    Thanks to @Pippa_Scope for inviting me to join this conversation.

    As has already been stated people come up with their own strategies for dealing with the challenges of not having the full use of one side of their body.

    The technique that health care professionals are taught, and thus pass onto the people that they work with, is to first dress the less able side and then the other side. When undressing the less able side is left to last. The theory being that this is the easiest way to get the less able limb into the clothing because the more able limb is free to assist.

    Can I suggest that you look at this American website: 
     https://chasa.org/living/dressing/  and scroll down to the bottom of the page where there is a link for an 'adaptive dressing booklet' it is titled "I can do it myself" and has lots of pictures that you can work through with your son.  As these resources are American they use disability related language that differs from what we would use in the UK.

    With regards to dressing aids this leaflet may be of interest: https://www.dlf.org.uk/factsheets/clothing 

    Ideally have a conversation with an Occupational Therapist (OT) who can assess your son's needs and help devise strategies. If he doesn't already see an OT you could ask his GP or SENCO if they can arrange a referral.

    Best Wishes


    Jean Merrilees BSc MRCOT

    You can read more of my posts at: https://community.scope.org.uk/categories/ask-an-occupational-therapist

  • RaeWitterRaeWitter Posts: 15Member Connected
    @Jean_Scope @Richard_Scope thank you both so very much. This is most helpful. I will certainly read the suggested material, and try Richard's way of dressing to see if this is easier for my son. Thank you both again!
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