Recovering From a Stroke
July 18, 2019
A stroke occurs when a blood clot or fragmented blood vessel blocks blood flow to the brain. It’s the fifth leading cause of death in America, so it’s no wonder that most people know someone who’s had a stroke.
Post-stroke recovery is a slow and uncertain process. It begins as soon as the patient is stable, and takes anywhere from three months to two years. It requires patience and commitment since most stroke survivors experience long-term, physical, emotional and cognitive changes.
Paths to Recovery
Since stroke survivors are not all the same, recovery can take many different paths depending on the severity and location of the stroke, and also take longer than expected. It’s important for patients and their caregivers to remember this because it’s easy to get frustrated and impatient when progress seems too slow, especially after the first few months of rapid recovery.
Post-stroke rehabilitation is the most important part of recovery. It usually includes physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and counseling, among other therapies.
Rehabilitation should begin as soon as possible to increase the chances of recovering all physical and brain function that may have been damaged by the stroke. Range of motion exercises, and standing and walking can begin at the hospital with the doctor’s approval.
After leaving the hospital, patients either go to an inpatient rehabilitation facility or return home. Returning home doesn’t mean they no longer require rehabilitation. They should still visit an outpatient rehabilitation center or opt for in-home visits.
After the first six weeks of recovery, the patient can usually do rehab on their own or with the help of a caregiver using online videos as a guide.
A stroke is a life-changing event that can change how someone feels about themselves, their responsibilities, relationships and work. So it isn’t unusual for some stroke survivors to experience depression and anxiety, which can interfere with rehabilitation and recovery.
Patients should speak to their doctor if they experience sadness or extreme worry that lasts longer than two weeks. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, the doctor may decide to prescribe medication, therapy or both.
Most inpatient rehabilitation programs include therapy, but patients who opt to do rehab on their own might consider joining a support group or seeing a therapist.
Recovering from a stroke takes time and can’t be rushed. However, survivors can improve their chances of making significant progress in their recovery through rehabilitation and therapy.
The most important thing to remember regarding having a stroke, besides being a kind and patient caregiver, is that time is critical, so seek medical attention immediately to ensure the fullest recovery possible.