Strokes, Strikes & Spares

Some years after my stroke, I started bowling with the Live Wires, a group of active seniors from my church. Back in my 20s, I had bowled in a league and carried an average score of around 180. My first three game scores after stroke were each less than 100.

Even after seeing how challenging bowling with one hand was, I really enjoyed trying and could see its potential as a fun way to exercise. Quickly, I saw how the 16-pound house ball was too heavy, and the holes were wrong and affected my aim. I bought my own ball and had it fitted to my fingers.

Since I need a cane to assist in walking, I knew I would need a system to allow me to bowl independently. In my first few games, Charlotte, my bride of 47 years, had brought the ball to me after I walked with my cane to the foul line. We exchanged cane for ball, and I bowled from a stationary position after determining the best arrangement of my feet for maintaining balance. Charlotte brought the ball back from the ball return for my second try. Even without strikes or spares, bowling with my peers was still fun. And just like that occasional good shot in golf that keeps us coming back, an occasional spare or strike convinced me that this was not only good exercise, but a skill I could refine with practice. And as we all learned in rehab, I set a goal of bowling a 200 game by Christmas. Since it was August, I thought that would be enough time.

But first, I needed to design a way to bowl independently. I had never used a walker because it required two working hands, and my cane had worked well for one-handed assistance. But walking with a cane and a bowling ball in the same hand was never going to work. I decided to make a canvas sling that would carry the ball while the walker gave me the needed balance. Luckily, the straps on my ball bag fit perfectly between the hand supports of the walker.

Using this set up, I bowled about three games a week, and one of those games was better than the week before. The other games were between 66 and 99. But that one game that tops my post-stroke personal best is always like that one shot in golf that kept me coming back. It didn’t take many weeks to see that my goal of "200 before Christmas" was unrealistic, so I changed it to "150 before Christmas and 200 sometime in 2015." My scores progressed each week — 105, 119, 124 and 134. I could feel 150 coming and maybe I could reconsider the 200 this year! Then I bowled a 148, which convinced me that 150 was inevitable. And then in December, I made my goal!

My point is this — if I can have this much fun with a few months of trying, there are many other survivors who can do the same. The Live Wires have two members who bowl from wheelchairs! I like bowling because it allows you to WIN when you strike out. Get out there and give it a try!

DAVID LAYTON Survivor Summerfield, North Carolina

Editor’s Note: Find more tips and videos from David at

This information is provided as a resource to our readers. The tips, products or resources listed have not been reviewed or endorsed by the American Stroke Association.

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Stroke Rehabilitation

Making the Best Decisions at Discharge After Stroke

The type of rehabilitation and support systems a survivor receives at discharge can strongly influence health outcomes and recovery. In this, the first part of a two-part series on stroke rehab, we offer guidance for the decision-making process required when it’s time to leave the hospital.

What to Expect from Outpatient Rehab

After stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type of rehabilitation. Outpatient therapy may consist of Several types of therapy. Whether a patient is referred to inpatient or outpatient therapy depends on the level of medical care required.

What to Expect in Stroke Rehab

Following a stroke, about two-thirds of survivors receive some type rehabilitation. In this second of our two-part series, we want to alleviate some of the mystery, fear and anxiety around the inpatient rehab part of the stroke recovery journey.
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AHA-ASA Resources

The Support Network

When faced with challenges recovering from heart disease or stroke, it’s important to have emotional support. That is why we created a network to connect patients and loved ones with others during their journey.

Caregiver Guide to Stroke

The Caregiver Guide to Stroke is meant to help caregivers better navigate the recovery process and the financial and social implications of a stroke.

Stroke Support Group Finder

To find a group near you, simply enter your ZIP code and a mile radius. If your initial search does not pull up any groups, try

Tips for Daily Living Library

This volunteer-powered library gathers tips and ideas from stroke survivors, caregivers and healthcare professionals all over the country who’ve created or discovered adaptive and often innovative ways to get things done!

Stroke Family Warmline

The Warmline connects stroke survivors and their families with an ASA team member who can provide support, helpful information or just a listening ear.

Let's Talk About Stroke Patient Information Sheets

Let's Talk About Stroke is a series of downloadable patient information sheets, created by the American Stroke Association, that presents information in a question-and-answer format that's brief, easy to follow and easy to read.

Request Free Stroke Information Packets

Fill out this online form to request free information about a variety of post-stroke topics.
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Stroke & Parts of the Brain

When Stroke Affects the Occipital Lobe

Our occipital lobe, the smallest of the four lobes of the cerebral cortex, controls how we visually interpret our world.

When Stroke Affects the Cerebellum

The cerebellum contains 80 percent of our neurons. Its job seems to be to make things better. We talked with neuroscientist Jeremy Schmahmann about how stroke affects the “little brain.”

When Stroke Affects the Parietal Lobe

The parietal lobe helps us make sense of sensory information, like where our bodies and body parts are in space, our sense of touch, and the part of our vision that deals with the location of objects.

When Stroke Affects the Frontal Lobe

Of the four lobes that make up the cerebral cortex, the frontal lobe is the largest. It plays a huge role in many of the functions that make us human — memory, language, movement, judgment, abstract thinking.

When Stroke Affects the Temporal Lobe

The temporal lobe has several functions, mainly involved with memory, perception and language.

When Stroke Affects the Brain Stem

The brain stem serves as a bridge in the nervous system. It sits at the top of the spinal column in the center of the brain. When a stroke happens there, it can cause a few different deficits and, in the most severe cases, can lead to locked-in syndrome.

When Stroke Affects the Thalamus

The thalamus can be thought of as a "relay station," receiving signals from the brain’s outer regions (cerebral cortex), interpreting them, then sending them to other areas of the brain to complete their job.
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Stroke Notes

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Support Showcase

Our new department highlighting the good work being done by stroke support groups from around the nation. If you are part of a successful support group we should consider featuring, let us know!