Recovery from Stroke
While a stroke patient recovers from a stroke, both the caregiver and the patient have to understand that the process of recovering from a life-impairing stroke has a slow progress and that it is always uncertain. This is because no one stroke is similar to another stroke. Each stroke is different in countless ways. Severity of each stroke is also different. That is why healthcare professionals such as medical doctors and nurses can only estimate the recovery period of a stroke patient based on the location where stroke has occurred in that patient. All in all, the fact is that it takes people who had severe stroke much more time to recover from it.
During the first few weeks or even several months after having a stroke, stroke patient's speech ability, physical movements, and mental clarity might improve. Although this strictly depends on the person, these physical and mental improvements can even occur after several years. One important thing considering stroke recovery is that the most important aspect of it is the support of family and friends for a person who had the stroke. The overall attitude of a person who had the stroke is also a vital part of stroke recovery. The recovery is directly dependent on rehabilitation process.
The recovery process after having the stroke usually begins after medical doctors have assessed and treated all the critical medical conditions in a patient who had stroke. Recovery becomes possible when precautionary steps were taken to prevent any further complications. What this means is that stroke rehabilitation might begin during patient's first visit to a hospital. That will increase patient's likelihood of recovering body parts impaired by stroke and impaired brain functionality. At the hospital, medical doctors will encourage the stroke survivor to perform a range of motion exercises that include:
- Changing Positions - lying down or seated.
Once the stroke patient has left hospital, he/she will either be admitted to a nursing facility or an inpatient stroke rehabilitation center. Some stroke patients are sent straight back home after leaving hospital. Each stage of stroke recovery is designed to help the stroke survivor reclaim its independence and return its home as soon as possible. Once the stroke survivor has returned home, patient's therapy will be continued in an outpatient facility or during the time of in-patient visits. Some patients can even perform stroke recovery all by themselves by using their home-therapy tools or by following online instructions.
The first 5 to 6 weeks of stroke recovery are the most intensive weeks for medical professionals and the stroke survivor. During this time, the patient will go through outpatient and inpatient therapy, depending on their overall condition and accessibility to a rehab center. During the first couple of weeks of stroke recovery, occupation therapy and intense physical therapy will usually take place. This therapy will usually be performed 5 to 6 days per week. Wealthier families of stroke survivors have the possibility to organize costly in-home physical and occupational therapy treatment. This is ideal for the elderly stroke survivors who do not have access to a local treatment center.
The first 3 months of stroke recovery are when the stroke survivor will see the most improvement. Usually, stroke survivors will need to recover even after this period, but they will see improvements. However, stroke survivors whose stroke affected their brain stem usually do not see any improvement during this period.
After 6 months following the initial stroke, most of the stroke survivors will experience the majority of improvements on every plan. However, a stroke survivor's possibility to improve its overall health state during this period greatly depends on him/her and the support of his/her family and friends. Without the support of family and friends and patient's strong will for life, nothing can be achieved regarding stroke recovery.
One of the most common side effects of stroke - aphasia or the inability to speak, in an understandable manner casts away in two years in 25 to 40% of stroke survivors. Now that we have mentioned this statistic, it is desirable to mention other statistics regarding stroke recovery:
- 10% of the stroke survivors recover from stroke completely.
- 25% of stroke survivors recover, but with several impairments.
- 40% of stroke survivors recover, but with moderate impairments that require special medical care.
- 10% of stroke survivors are required to spend the rest of their lives in a nursing facility.
- 15% of stroke patients die soon after having the stroke.
Rehabilitation for Stroke
Stroke rehabilitation, also known as stroke rehab or stroke recuperation, is the vital part of recovery after stroke. In this section, we will find out what is involved in stroke rehab.
The main goal of stroke rehabilitation is to help stroke patients re-learn skills they have lost when the stroke has affected their brain. Stroke rehab helps stroke patients gain independence and improve their overall quality of life.
Stroke side effects and each stroke patient's ability to recover abilities lost due to the stroke vary widely. Scientists have found out that our brain is adaptive and that it can recover some of its impaired or lost functions. They have also concluded that it is necessary to practice regained skills.
What is Involved in Stroke Rehabilitation?
There are various approaches to stroke rehabilitation, some of which are still in the early stages of research and development.
Stroke rehab may include several or all of the following activities, which greatly depends on the part of the body affected by stress and the ability affected by stress.
Physical Activities in Stroke Rehabilitation:
- Strengthening motor skills is crucial in stroke rehabilitation. This involves performing certain exercises that will help stroke survivors improve their muscle strength and coordination. This includes physical therapy that will help with swallowing since many stroke patients forget how to swallow food.
- Another aspect in stroke rehabilitation is mobility training. This includes teaching stroke patients how to use walking aids such as walking canes or walkers. Mobility training may also include teaching stroke survivors how to use a plastic brace that will stabilize and assist their muscle strength.
- Range-of-motion therapy includes exercises and other types of treatment that will lessen muscle spasticity and help stroke survivors regain range of motion.
- Forced-use therapy is also known as constraint-induced therapy. Forced-use therapy involves restricting the use of extremity that was unaffected by stroke while promoting the use of extremity affected by stroke.
Cognitive and Emotional Activities in Stroke Rehabilitation:
- Psychological evaluation and treatment is important in stroke rehabilitation. This involves evaluating stroke patient's cognitive skills and emotional adjustment by taking specific tests. This also includes stroke survivor having consultations with a mental health care professional and patient's admittance to psychological therapy.
- Another aspect in stroke rehabilitation is therapy for communication disorders. This type of stroke recuperation helps stroke survivors who lost ability to speak, to hear, to listen, and to write regain those abilities.
- Medications, to be more precise anti-depressants, are sometimes used in stroke survivors who suffer from post-stroke depression, which occurs in many stroke patients.
Experimental Therapies in Stroke Rehab:
- Alternative medicine such as massage, acupuncture and herbal therapy are said to be beneficial in stroke rehabilitation.
- Stem cells are being investigated and are believed to be beneficial in stroke rehabilitation. They are only given to stroke survivors who are willing to become the part of clinical trials.
When does Stroke Rehabilitation begin?
The sooner the stroke rehabilitation starts, the higher the chances for a stroke survivor to completely heal from the stroke. Before stroke rehabilitation takes place, a medical professional's task is to stabilize stroke survivor's condition and control life-threatening conditions.
During acute hospital stay after having a stroke, it is not uncommon to start stroke rehabilitation 48 hours after stroke survivor's admittance to the hospital.
How Long Does Stroke Rehabilitation Last?
The duration of stroke rehabilitation only depends on the severity of stroke. Most of the stroke survivors need a couple of months to a couple of years to completely recover from the stroke.
A stroke survivor's recuperation plan will change during its recovery and as it re-learns skills impaired by the initial stroke.
Where does Stroke Rehabilitation take Place?
Stroke patients usually begin their stroke rehabilitation while they are in hospital. Before a stroke survivor leaves hospital, stroke survivor's family will talk with social workers and medical professionals on the topic where their family member who survived stroke should continue it's stroke rehabilitation.
After leaving hospital, stroke survivor is left with the following stroke rehabilitation settings:
- Stroke rehabilitation can take place in outpatient units. These medical facilities are usually part of clinic and hospitals. Stroke survivors that are recommended to continue their stroke rehab at outpatient units spend several hours in them and then go home.
- Inpatient rehabilitation units are also where stroke rehabilitation can be started. These medical facilities are often a part of a larger clinic or a hospital. Usually patients who survived severe stroke are admitted to inpatient stroke rehabilitation units where they will be admitted to an intensive stroke rehabilitation program.
- Nursing homes are another place where stroke rehabilitation starts. Stroke survivors who got mild side effects of the initial stroke are admitted to nursing homes. There are some nursing homes that strictly specialize in stroke recuperation while other nursing homes offer less intensive rehab programs.
Who is Involved in Stroke Rehabilitation?
The following people are involved in stroke rehabilitation:
- Medical doctors.
- Rehabilitation nurses.
- Occupational therapists.
- Physical therapists.
- Speech and language pathologists.
- Social workers.
- Vocational counselors.