What Do You Do For Stroke Recovery?

A stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain is disrupted, either due to a blockage or a ruptured blood vessel. This can lead to the death of brain cells and cause a variety of physical and mental effects, including impairments to a person’s ability to move, speak, or think.

The process of stroke recovery is unique to each person. It is influenced by various factors, such as the type of stroke, the area of the brain affected, and the severity of the stroke. However, there are common stages of recovery that most stroke survivors will experience.

Acute Stage

The acute stage of stroke recovery begins immediately after the stroke and lasts for about a week. 

During this stage, the primary focus is on stabilizing the patient’s vital signs and preventing further damage to the brain. The patient will be monitored closely, and imaging tests may be done to assess the extent of the damage.

Subacute Stage

The subacute stage of stroke recovery starts about a week after the stroke and lasts up to three months. 

During this stage, the patient’s brain begins to heal, and rehabilitation begins. The goal of rehabilitation is to help the patient regain as much function as possible. Since the brain tends to work on a “use it or lose it” principle, recovery typically involves practicing many functions and activities in a safe environment.

Chronic Stage

The chronic stage of stroke recovery starts three months after the stroke and can last for years. 

During this stage, the patient’s progress may slow down, and the focus shifts to managing any long-term disabilities. 

Rehabilitation continues, and the patient may be given assistive devices to help with daily living activities.

Stroke Rehabilitation

Stroke rehabilitation is a critical component of the process of stroke recovery. Rehabilitation may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and cognitive therapy.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy focuses on improving the physical abilities of an individual after a stroke, such as mobility, strength, and coordination. A physical therapist will work with the patient to develop a personalized exercise plan that targets the affected areas of the body. 

Physical therapy can also help reduce pain, stiffness, and spasticity, which are common after a stroke.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy focuses on helping individuals with activities of daily living. This includes tasks such as getting dressed, preparing meals, and performing other routine activities. 

Occupational therapists work with patients to improve their fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and overall cognitive function. They may also provide adaptive equipment or modifications to the patient’s environment to help them complete these tasks more easily.

Speech Therapy

Speech therapy, also known as language therapy, is focused on helping individuals who have difficulty with communication after a stroke. 

Speech therapists work with patients to develop strategies to improve their communication abilities, which can include exercises to strengthen the muscles used in speech and swallowing. It may also involve learning to use augmentative and alternative communication devices.

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy focuses on improving cognitive function—memory, attention, perception, and problem-solving abilities.

This may involve games and puzzles to challenge the patient’s brain, as well as simple tests and exercises to monitor and practice these skills. 

Emotional Support 

Emotional support is also an essential aspect of stroke recovery. The emotional impact of a stroke can be significant and may include feelings of depression, anxiety, frustration, and even grief. 

Family members and caregivers can provide emotional support, but it may also be helpful to seek professional counseling or support groups. 

Interventions like group therapy, art therapy, music therapy, and mindfulness-based therapies can also be incredibly helpful for individuals (and their families) who are struggling with the emotional weight of post-stroke recovery.

Talking to someone who has gone through a similar experience can also be very comforting and provide a sense of community and understanding.

Managing Long-Term Disabilities

In some cases, stroke survivors may have long-term disabilities that require ongoing management. These disabilities can affect the patient’s ability to perform daily living activities and may require the use of assistive devices such as walkers, wheelchairs, or communication aids.

Managing long-term disabilities may involve ongoing rehabilitation, as well as modifications to the patient’s home or workplace. The patient may also need to make lifestyle changes to manage their condition, such as improving their diet, quitting smoking, or managing their stress levels.

The doctors and healthcare team are there to help in any way that is required. They will provide instructions and resources to aid the recovery process in the best way possible.