Coping and recovering from a stroke typically means implementing an entirely new routine into your daily lifestyle. Successful rehabilitation after a stroke involves dedication and commitment, as well as engaging in healthy and helpful exercises and behaviors.
People recovering from a stroke require a strong support system to help them stay on track during the long path to recovery. Friends and family are good support resource, and home caregivers can also offer some knowledgeable and reliable assistance.
One key to successful recovery is an organized plan and the devotion to see it through.
Begin Rehabilitation Immediately
It is absolutely crucial to start the recovery process as soon as possible after a stroke occurs. When a stroke happens, cells in the brain become damaged.
Types of Stroke
An Ischemic stroke is when an artery leading to the brain becomes obstructed, and blood flow is blocked. A hemorrhagic stroke is when an artery or blood vessel in the brain ruptures or bursts and begins bleeding into the brain.
With both types of stroke, connections in the brain get broken and need to be repaired for proper brain function. The period immediately following a stroke is a crucial time to rebuild those connections and strengthen neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity, or cortical plasticity, is the brain’s ability to reorganize broken connections and regenerate damaged brain cells.
Neuroplasticity is achieved through repetition of movement and speech to effectively rewire the brain.
For example, if a person suffers a stroke on the right side of the brain, a side effect may be foot drop occurring in the left foot. Focus on the left foot, and repetitive corrective exercises can help rebuild the connections and neurons in the brain associated with those actions.
A very common after effect of a stroke is speech impairment. Particularly for people that suffer a stroke on the left side of the brain, speech problems are almost guaranteed to ensue.
The most prevalent speech issue after a stroke is aphasia. Aphasia is the loss of the ability to effectively process and comprehend information. This condition can be expressive (communicating information), and receptive (understanding information being presented).
Speech problems can be temporary if dealt with immediately and effectively. Relearning communication skills can be frustrating and gradual, so it is a good idea to start slow and build up as confidence and ability increases. When helping a loved recover from a stroke, patience is going to be required.
A speech pathologist can help construct a speech training regimen to retrain the brain. Once a functional routine has been implemented, lots of repetition is needed.
Many people experience PTSD symptoms in the wake of a stroke. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder occurs when details of a traumatic incident are played over and over in the brain. This can produce feelings of anxiety, guilt, and depression.
PTSD symptoms can have a detrimental impact on the recovery process. Stroke rehabilitation requires a positive attitude and the belief that a full recovery can be made.
Healing mental and emotional effects of a stroke are just as important as the physical ones.
The amount of time and effort needed to successfully recover from a stroke can be extremely draining, even for people in good health. For people with existing or chronic health conditions, the recovery process can be even more taxing and strenuous.
Medications can also have an impact on energy levels and the motivation to carry out rehab exercises.
Getting regular quality sleep, and engaging in meditation are good ways to combat fatigue.
A high percentage of stroke survivors report a plateau in the recovery process about 3 or 4 months after the stroke occurred. The progress achieved during the first 3 months can be very encouraging, and it is important to keep in mind not to get discouraged when there is mild regression, or a plateau is reached.
At this stage, progress is still being made, it is now just moving at a slower pace. When this happens it is recommended to make slight adjustments to the recovery plan, but still continue with the regular routine.
Stroke rehabilitation requires a tremendous amount of repetition. No one likes doing the same thing over and over again, and it can become very boring and disheartening.
However, staying motivated is essential to healing. Finding ways to stay motivated is key to ongoing recovery. One powerful motivator is to keep in mind that the risk of having a second stroke is greatly increased when recovery from the initial stroke was inadequate.