Everyone who has experienced a stroke has a different recovery experience. You may suffer from physical, cognitive or emotional disorders, and any such problems can be enormously challenging. However, there are certain standard rehabilitation steps that are typically recommended by doctors, and many of these approaches are extremely effective. Here are the basic facts you need to know about three of the most common post-stroke disorders, along with information about your recovery.
After a stroke, your mobility might be limited subtly or dramatically. An estimated 90% of stroke survivors experience some paralysis directly after a stroke, whether in a single muscle or a group of muscles.
Often, these symptoms will appear on the side of the body opposite to where the stroke actually occurred. Hemiparesis is similarly common, causing weakness on one side of the body and leading to problems with fatigue, maintaining balance, spatial awareness and picking up objects.
Thankfully, a commitment to rehabilitative therapy can enable significant increases in movement in patients who suffer paralysis or hemiparesis. Doctors typically recommend working with a physical therapist who can help you to build up strength in the affected areas and slowly improve mobility.
For example, mCIT is a form of therapy that restricts movement in the unaffected areas of the body, encouraging you to use the weaker areas to their full potential. Meanwhile, electrical stimulation can improve strength and boost sensory awareness in a weakened muscle or muscle group. At home, assistive devices like walkers and canes can help you to move around more independently and increase your safety.
When a stroke leaves you struggling to find appropriate words or makes it harder for you to understand what others are saying, this is called aphasia. Although this problem can be extremely frustrating, it is treatable and a full recovery is seen in many cases. Speech therapy is absolutely vital, providing you with exercises and useful techniques that enhance your ability to understand and communicate.
Your doctor will help you find appropriate speech therapy, which may include working with groups, taking certain prescription drugs, and playing creative games that encourage you to use the part of your brain that comprehends and manipulates language.
The most common form of dementia after Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia can lead stroke patients to encounter difficulties with memory, problem-solving and judgement. These symptoms are caused by a reduction in brain circulation following the stroke, and they may be mildly annoying or significant enough to interfere with everyday life.
Although vascular dementia cannot be reversed, rehabilitation focuses on slowing the progression of the condition and may sometimes even stop progression altogether.
For example, you may take drugs to lower your blood pressure or cholesterol, begin treatment that protects you from blood clots, and work to keep your blood sugar under control (especially if you have a pre-existing diabetes diagnosis).
As the above suggests, recovering from a stroke can involve facing some significant challenges. However, there are many positive treatment avenues to explore, and a full or partial recovery is often possible.