Every year, more than 795,000 Americans have a stroke, which is considered a medical emergency. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), strokes kill twice as many women as breast cancer does, and is the fifth leading cause of death in men. A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is blocked or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. And, when brain cells are starved of oxygen, they die. That’s why it’s important to know the benefits of recovering from a stroke, and also how to help prevent another stroke.
Stroke Effects on the Body
Suffering from a stroke can have devastating consequences on the body and the mind. There are many effects of a stroke, which depend on which area of the brain the stroke occurs. The effects may include:
Neurological complications on the side of the body the stroke affects
Trouble chewing or swallowing
Emotional symptoms – depression and impulsivity
All of this can leave a person feeling vulnerable, that their independence is compromised, and even worry that they could have another stroke.
Recovering From a Stroke
According to medical experts, the faster you receive treatment, the better. Stroke rehabilitation priorities include helping patients get back to the activities of daily living. The ability to recover from a stroke depends on the severity of the stroke, and the recovery time is different for everyone. It requires patience, hard work, and commitment. Sometimes it can take weeks, months, or even years, to recover, with the process, at times, slow and uncertain. While some people recover fully, others have long-term or lifelong disabilities. The National Stroke Association estimates that around 10 percent of people who have a stroke recover almost completely, with 25 percent recovering with minor impairments. Another 40 percent experience moderate to severe impairments, requiring care.
Treatment for your stroke may begin, once doctors have stabilized your condition. This includes restoring blood flow to your brain and reducing any pressure in the surrounding area. Once this is accomplished, they will work with you on recovery and reducing any risk factors for another stroke.
To increase your chances of regaining affected brain and body function, the recovery process typically begins in the hospital setting, during your initial stay, or as early as possible.
There are a variety of places that offer stroke rehabilitation. After your stroke, and while in the hospital, you may find that your hospital has a rehabilitation unit. An inpatient unit will require you to stay at the hospital for several weeks. For outpatient care, you will be required to come to the rehabilitation facility for a certain period of time each day to work on your rehabilitation.
Some nursing homes also offer specialized stroke rehabilitation programs. And, if appropriate for your individualized care, you may be able to have specialists come to your home to help you recover from your stroke. This is considered more limited, as your home may not be equipped with the space or equipment necessary for rehabilitation exercises. Also, be sure to find out if your insurance company will cover this type of care, so you are prepared for any associated costs.
Your rehabilitation may include working with speech, physical and occupational therapists.
Speech therapy helps people who have problems producing or understanding speech.
Physical therapy helps people learn exercises to relearn movement and coordination skills.
Occupational therapy focuses on improving daily activities, such as eating, drinking, dressing, bathing, reading, and writing.
It’s not uncommon for patients to experience setbacks in the first few months following a stroke. Pneumonia, a heart attack, or a second stroke can present after the initial stroke. Your care team will work with you to decide whether or not rehabilitation needs to be put on hold for the time being, until you recover.
Talk to Your Doctor
Also, don’t forget to have a conversation with your doctor about a prevention plan, so you can be successful in your recovery. This may include medications, such as aspirin, a diet and exercise regimen, and other small steps that may have a big impact on your current and future health.
The Stroke Program at Kent Hospital is committed to providing a comprehensive, state-of-the-art approach to the diagnosis and treatment of Stroke.