When you or a loved one suffers a stroke, you want to do everything possible to assist recovery. A stroke is caused by an interruption or drastic reduction in the blood supply to part of the brain. When the blood can not flow to the brain, brain tissue is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, causing brain cells to die. Emergency medical treatment can lessen the extent of brain damage and disability. Today more Americans are surviving strokes than ever before and making successful recoveries. Ten percent of stroke survivors will make a full recovery. Forty percent suffer an impairment but go on to live full lives. The extent of the recovery varies based on amount of brain damage and the type of disability. Here is a guide to help you or your loved one make a successful recovery.
How to Recover from a Stroke
Participate in a stroke rehabilitation program. Rehabilitation programs are geared toward helping the stroke patient relearn skills lost due to the stroke. Programs include physical, speech, and occupational therapies so that patients can relearn any necessary movement or communication skills. Many of these programs begin at the hospital and then are continued in an another care facility. Getting involved in rehabilitation as early as possible makes a big difference in recovery.
Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. A nutritious diet will help the body regain strength and promote healing.
As you recover, you may find it hard to have the energy to cook regularly. Try to plan your meals ahead to make sure you are eating a nutritious diet. Eat the largest meal early in the day to help maintain energy. If you find you are not hungry enough to eat three normal size meals, try making six small meals daily. Ask friends and family to cook healthy meals for you that you can freeze them and eat at your convenience. You can also find programs that bring meals to seniors such as senior centers and "Meals on Wheels."
Some stroke survivors will find eating a challenge if they have chewing or swallowing problems or problems holding utensils. For chewing and swallowing problems, you can try cutting food into smaller pieces before eating. Foods can also be blended into a smooth pudding to avoid choking. Special utensils and dishes developed for stroke survivors that feature larger handles, Velcro straps, or plate guards can make eating easier during recovery.
Obey the doctor's orders. Take all the prescribed medications and participate fully in the rehabilitation.
Set recovery goals. Work with your caregiver early during your recovery and develop a list of goals. The goals can be small or large. A half-smile is just as important as walking a few steps. Goals should include both skill recovery and activities desired after recovery, such as a trip to California. Prioritize the goals. Whenever a goal on the list is achieved, celebrate that victory. Celebrate both small and large victories. The list can be a great motivating tool.
Get all the necessary tools to assist your recovery. Besides rehabilitation, you want to make sure you have all that you need for daily activities. Have bathrooms and bedrooms converted to allow for wheelchair access and hand rails. Accept assistance from family, friends, or a cleaning service to keep your home clean and help do laundry. Follow the doctor's orders and use the cane or walker when you are too tired to walk on your own.
Accept help when you need assistance. Recovering from a stroke is a difficult emotional and physical journey. You may sometimes feel depressed or frustrated. Always talk to someone when you feel upset or discouraged. Consult a professional if you or your loved one shows signs of clinical depression.
Be determined to recover. Recovering lost skills after a stroke will be challenging and may take a while. Even if you must adjust to a permanent impairment, you can still live a full and satisfying life connected to loved ones and friends. Be determined to recover and do the things you enjoy.
Keep in touch with family and friends. Lean on the ones you love during this challenging time. They will help you stay determined and positive during recovery. They can lend a hand when you need assistance. Most of them will be happy to help you in any way possible.
Keep a positive attitude. Being hopeful and positive will make recovery from a stroke faster and easier. A positive attitude can lessen frustration and make coping with pain endurable. A positive attitude can also make the difference between a full or partial recovery.
Join a stroke recovery group to talk with other stroke survivors. Participate in activities you enjoy as soon as possible to stay connected to family and friends. You will have fun and look forward to the day you can do even more. Continue rehabilitation therapy as long as needed and recommended by your physicians.