Did you know that, according to the CDC, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in the U.S?
When you or a loved one has a stroke, it’s a scary experience. And, life after a stroke can be just as overwhelming.
However, knowing what to expect in the days, weeks, and months after having a stroke can make the whole recovery process a bit easier.
Whether you’re beginning the recovery process yourself or you’re the primary caregiver for a stroke patient, knowledge is power.
Keep reading to learn more about the effects of a stroke and what to expect during the recovery process.
The Effects of a Stroke
No two strokes are exactly the same. As a result, one person that suffers a stroke may experience different physical conditions than someone else who had a similar stroke.
Some of these physical conditions include:
- Pain and numbness
- Problems with balance and coordination
- Extreme fatigue
- Memory issues
- Vision problems
- Difficulty solving simple problems
- Mood swings
The good news that all of these effects are common. And, many of them will improve after going through rehab. Some may also go away on their own, over the course of time.
However, for best results, you should work with a rehabilitation specialist.
As the primary caregiver for someone who has suffered a stroke, pay close attention to any symptoms that have developed as a result of the stroke and communicate regularly with a doctor for treatment recommendations.
Stroke Rehabilitation Facilities
There are several different types of facilities that offer stroke rehabilitation services.
By working closely with a doctor, you can make the best choice on the type of rehab facility that your loved one should attend shortly after suffering from a stroke.
While these services can be expensive, your insurance or critical illness cover may help alleviate some of the costs, so your loved one has access to the very best treatment. Here’s a closer look at stroke rehab options.
Depending on the severity of the stroke, you may opt to have an occupational or physical therapist visit your home to provide treatment.
If it’s hard for your loved one to leave home after having a stroke, this can be a great option for treatment.
However, since it’s not always feasible to bring large rehab equipment into a home, this option may not work for someone who needs extensive physical therapy.
For someone who needs more assistance during recovery, consider going to a rehabilitation clinic instead. Some hospitals have rehab units in their facility that they’ll recommend to you.
Or the doctor may send you to a separate rehab clinic that specializes in stroke recovery.
If you don’t have the means to care for your loved one in your home, you may consider moving them into a nursing home that has a specialized stroke rehabilitation program.
This ensures they get the care and attention they need during their recovery process.
Stroke Recovery Treatments
As we mentioned above, the nature of a stroke will determine which parts of the body are most affected, and therefore, need the most treatment.
Here are some of the most common areas of treatment that stroke patients need.
Motor Skill Recovery
Oftentimes, someone who has had a stroke has trouble moving muscles on one side of their body.
Working with a therapist to strengthen weakened muscles can make it possible for stroke patients to move more comfortably and regain those lost motor skills.
Cognitive Skill Recovery
Many stroke patients experience memory loss or have trouble with logical thinking and reasoning.
An occupational therapist can work with you to help you build back cognitive skills, so you feel comfortable in your body and have confidence in your mind.
Sensory Skill Recovery
Have you noticed your loved one isn’t responding to sensory sensations like temperature changes after having a stroke?
This is not an uncommon effect of a stroke, and working with a therapist can help them regain these important sensory skills over time.
While the physical effects of having a stroke are often discussed the most, it’s important not to overlook the emotional impacts as well.
In fact, some stroke patients suffer from PseudoBulbar Affect, which can cause them to experience extreme emotions in an exaggerated way, like crying uncontrollably.
If you notice a significant change in your loved one’s mood or suspect that they are suffering from depression following a stroke, encourage them to talk with a therapist. In some cases, taking antidepressants may also aid in recovery.
Preventing Another Stroke
In the first 5 years after having a stroke, you’re at a higher risk of having a second one. As such, it’s important to take measures that may help prevent having another stroke.
Many health professionals believe that adopting a healthy lifestyle, by staying active and eating right can help lower the risks of a second stroke.
When is the last time you had your blood pressure checked? Since many strokes are caused by high blood pressure, taking medication to help lower it can also help prevent future strokes.
Caring for a Stroke Patient
If you’re caring for a loved one that has suffered from a stroke, it can feel like a big weight of responsibility is now on your shoulders.
Read as much information as you can about stroke recovery so you can help your loved one during this difficult time. However, remember that you don’t have to do it alone.
Rely on doctors and other health professionals to help you navigate the recovery period. And, if possible, take time for yourself to decompress when you can.
Finally, remember that you’re doing your best and you’re there for your loved one when they need you the most, which is a wonderful gift.
There is Life After a Stroke
While it might not seem like it at the moment, remember that there is life after a stroke. Now that you have a better idea of what to expect during the recovery process, you’re more equipped to help your loved one adjust accordingly.
Check out our other articles for even more resources on health and wellness.