Coping With Stroke as a Teenager

A stroke during the teenage years can turn a young adult's life upside down. Teenagers are already navigating a tricky time in life. When a stroke happens, it can cause uncertainty, it increases absences from school, forces you to miss social functions and adds a new disability to an already complicated teenage life. Where can teenagers and parents turn after a stroke?

Pediatrician- During the teenage years, most people still go to a pediatrician.

Some pediatrics departments have a section of adolescent medicine especially for young adult care because young adults have health concerns that are different from those of children or older folks.

Neurologist or stroke specialist - Most young stroke survivors will need care from a neurologist or even a stroke neurologist because a stroke generally requires extra attention. A doctor's office that has seen a lot of stroke patients can direct you to get extra help that you might need - such as physician therapy, rehabilitation or special equipment to help you get around.

School - You might need special learning assistance in some of your classes after a stroke. Your school might be able to help with testing to see if you need extra help or accommodations. Sometimes schools do not have facilities for testing and you may need to go to a neuropsychologist who can help define whether you have any learning issues as a result of your stroke.

Accommodations, such as extended time to work on exams or projects may be necessary - even if just for the first year or so after your stroke.

Athletics - If you are an athlete, you might have experienced a change in your abilities after your stroke. Additional coaching or even a different sport might be necessary.

A physical therapist or rehabilitation specialist can work with you to determine which sports you can safely participate in after your stroke.

Music and art instruction - If you are an artist or a musician, you might notice a change in your abilities after a stroke. However, you might not have experienced any decline in your artistic or musical ability, and stroke survivors can actually derive great improvement in rehabilitation of neurological function and mood with music therapy.

Fashion- If you are a teenager who has had a stroke, that does not mean that you can't still enjoy expressing yourself and enjoying the latest fashions and hairstyles. You might have weakness, which can inhibit your ability to style hair or other special tasks. If you have asymmetry of the face or eyes- some makeup tricks can help enhance your features to make you look the way you want to look.

Friends - Most of the time, your friends will be concerned about you and may want to be extra sensitive with what they say around you or what they expect you to be able to handle after a stroke.

Over time, your friends will figure out that you are still 'you' but that there are a few changes. They are smart enough to understand whatever you want to explain to them or talk about.

Bullying - Most teens wouldn't ever bully someone who has a disability or an illness. But, if you have 3000 kids at your school, there is a chance that one or two may be so dysfunctional that they try to achieve a sense of importance or social status by actually bullying you for being a stroke survivor. While it may seem like an awkward hassle- it is very important to report such harassment to protect yourself and other vulnerable students.

Driving safety - Your ability to drive may change if your vision or strength or sense of perception was affected by your stroke. Driving is a concern for stroke survivors of all ages. It is important to be patient, to try to work on understanding your abilities in the setting of rehabilitation or occupational therapy, and never to allow yourself behind the wheel if you are not 100% certain of your driving abilities.

Teens and stroke information - As a teenager, you are definitely smart enough to understand stroke and the effects of your stroke. Don't stop learning about how you can improve your recovery throughout your life. But don't rush recovery. A race to regain function is never as effective as a patient, realistic and consistent recovery plan.

Support groups - Support groups can help you by giving you role models and allowing you the opportunity to talk with a group of people who understand what you are going through. One of the advantages of support groups is that they are not part of your usual 'circle' so you don't have to put on the same image that you normally put on at school, with your sports team or with your friends or family.

Blogging - Many teens turn to blogs or blogging for support. This can be an amazing way to express your feelings, concerns and share your own experiences and advice. The only potential negative- as with all social media- is the possibility of creepy stalkers looking for vulnerable teenagers. Be cautious and don't provide any personal information- because - as you already know- not everyone online is who they really say they are.

Do you have anything to share about how you are coping with stroke as a teen? Or do you know a teenager who is doing great as a stroke survivor? Contact @strokenews1 on twitter to share your story!

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