How to Recover From a Stroke

After a stroke, it feels like you have taken a huge step backward in life. But you can improve and get better after a stroke. The truth is, it takes work to achieve your best recovery. Here are strategies to optimize your healing after a stroke.

1. Physical Therapy

The thing most people don’t talk about when it comes to physical therapy is that it really is hard work. You will have to put in a lot of effort with your therapist to move muscles that you don't normally feel you can move on your own.

It is important to go into the process of physical therapy knowing that it is challenging so you don't become disappointed in your abilities when it is more exhausting than you expected. It is almost impossible to get better without overcoming your natural inclination to rest your weak muscles.

Taking every opportunity you can get to go to supervised physical therapy is one of the best approaches when it comes to regaining your abilities after a stroke.

2. Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is different from physical therapy in that it is about relearning practical daily living skills you may have lost after a stroke. You might become frustrated when you live through the realization of how hard it is to accomplish routine chores that you used to be able to do with ease. Important tasks like brushing your teeth can seem overwhelming after a stroke, but with enough time and practice, your quality of life can improve tremendously with occupational therapy.

3. Get Enough Food and Water

Some stroke survivors experience a loss of appetite and fatigue- both of which can interfere with proper nutrition. It might feel odd that you have to remember to eat and drink for the first time in your life. If you need to get nutrition program from a dietician or use a fitness app to maintain your caloric intake, it is definitely worth the effort to make sure you are getting the energy and nourishment you need from food so that you can achieve your optimal recovery.

4. Proactively Deal with Emotions

A stroke can leave you feeling sad, hopeless, frustrated and depressed. Talk to a trusted friend or counselor to avoid being bogged down by excessive negativity that can hinder your progress as you recover from a stroke. There is nothing wrong with experiencing negative feelings; you just need to be able to prevent them from controlling your life.

5. Obtain Accommodations That Allow you to do What you Want to do

If you need special assistance- whether it is a handicapped parking sign or a cane, by all means, pursue them-you are entitled to them. Get the help and assistance you need at home or at work on order to live your life to the fullest and most satisfying possible.

6. Take Care of Health Priorities

Give your health the time and attention it deserves. If you are fortunate enough to live in a country with a health care system and health coverage, it is a waste not to take advantage of the resources at your disposal. Getting your regular physicals and taking your medicine as prescribed is the wisest way to maximize your healing process after a stroke.

7. Nurture Relationships

Relationships with loved ones, friends, support groups, and even pets have been shown to result in better functional outcome after a stroke. Don't forget to focus on healthy relationships so that you can enjoy your leisure time.  A sense of joy that comes from social interaction has been shown to aid the body’s natural healing abilities and to prevent stress, infections and disease.

8. Come to Terms With the Past

Excessive stress hinders recovery by consuming your body's immune system and energy. After any illness, particularly an illness that limits your abilities, such as a stroke, people can fall into a rut of remaining 'stuck' in the past, ruminating on painful experiences and hurt feelings. Instead of dwelling on who started being the bad guy in a damaged relationship, understand that you did the best you could under the circumstances at the time and forgive yourself and, if possible, others, for old mistakes. Try to make the most of your future starting now.

9. Prevent Injuries

Nothing slows down stroke recovery like a broken bone or a concussion. After a stroke, it can be emotionally difficult to accept your physical limitations. While you should put in your best effort during supervised physical therapy, you need to stay safe when you are on your own. Don't climb ladders or try to lift heavy objects if you aren't quite sure that you are 'there yet' in your recovery path.

10. Prevent Infections

Few people know that an infection can worsen stroke symptoms and can trigger an overall decline in abilities after a stroke. In fact, stroke survivors can often end up in the hospital with weakness or delirium provoked by a fever. The inflammation and the immune response of an infection can slow down your healing process after a stroke as you use your body's energy to fight an infection instead of healing from a stroke. Prevent infections by eating a healthy diet, staying hydrated, hand washing and getting recommended vaccinations.

Final Thoughts

Not everyone recovers exactly the same after a stroke. Take the steps you need to take to optimize your stroke recovery.

Sources

Predicting health related quality of life 6 months after stroke: the role of anxiety and upper limb dysfunction, Morris JH, van Wijck F, Joice S, Donaghy M, Disability and ARehabilitation, February 2013

Continue Reading