Rehabilitation from a stroke is a complex process. It begins with stroke treatment in the hospital. Rehabilitation usually follows in the clinic and at home. We hope it helps to light your road to recovery. Let us begin.
Understanding stroke rehabilitation
Let’s start with the definition of a stroke.
Stroke rehabilitation is completely brain-related
The causes of a stroke are similar to those of a heart attack, but in the brain . That is why stroke is also known as a “cerebral infarct.”
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off either by a clogged artery (ischemic stroke) or the bursting of an artery (hemorrhagic stroke).
Because brain cells cannot survive without oxygen, a lack of oxygen-rich blood causes brain damage that results in the aftermath of a stroke.
The sequelae you experience will depend on where the stroke occurred in your brain, which we will discuss below.
Each patient will have a different stroke rehabilitation process
The brain is made up of many different parts that control different functions, such as language, emotions, and logic.
A stroke can occur in any area of the brain and affect different functions, making each stroke unique.
The size and location of the stroke impacts rehabilitation
Every stroke patient should ask their neurologist about the size and location of their stroke, as it has serious implications for rehabilitation.
Each side of the brain controls the opposite side of the body.
For example, when there is a stroke on the left side of the brain, it can damage the right side of the body.
Other sequelae are more ambiguous, such as prosopagnosia (difficulty recognizing faces) after a stroke on the right side.
So understanding the location of your stroke is very important during rehab.
Neuroplasticity is the driver of recovery
Activation of neuroplasticity is the most important factor during stroke rehabilitation.
Neuroplasticity is the process your brain uses to heal itself after an injury. This is how new neural connections are formed.
When part of the brain is damaged after a stroke, neuroplasticity allows your brain to reconnect its healthy parts and thus recover.
This is how you can rehabilitate from the aftermath of stroke.
Mass practice is key to stroke rehabilitation
Neuroplasticity is activated by mass practice, which means high repetition.
When a task is repeated frequently, the neurons responsible for that task become more efficient at their work.
For example, repeating stroke exercises over and over again helps your brain become more efficient at moving muscles.
Repetition is the key to recovery!
Stroke rehabilitation time
Now that you know how to treat the aftermath of your stroke, you may be wondering how long this could take. Let’s see.
Stroke rehabilitation begins as soon as possible
Stroke rehabilitation usually begins the day after treatment is given.
Although this can be overwhelming for the patient, therapists must capitalize on the “elevated state of plasticity” the brain is in immediately after injury.
The rehabilitation carried out during these early stages will have a greater impact on recovery.
Recovery time varies greatly between patients
Each stroke patient will have a different stroke recovery time, because each stroke is different.
However, generally speaking, people recovering from a minor stroke can recover within 6 months to a year. For a massive stroke, rehab could take years.
Although this may seem overwhelming, don’t lose hope! While stroke rehabilitation is a long process, there is high hope for recovery.
With a solid rehab program, even a full recovery is within reach, which we’ll talk about later.
The stagnation is real and surmountable.
The stagnations during stroke rehab are real and well documented.
Most patients will see a slowdown during stroke recovery in about 3-6 months.
This does NOT mean that the recovery is complete. Although your progress slows down, it won’t stop as long as you don’t stop.
The stagnations are real and normal, and you can reverse them by giving your brain the correct stimulation.
Specifically, you’ll need to incorporate some variety and challenge into your regimen to shake things up and keep your results moving forward.
Know how to reverse the regression
During stroke rehabilitation, patients often take two steps forward and one step back. This is normal.
Small decreases in progress are normal and should not be stressful.
When you zoom out and look at the big picture, there should be an upward trend of progress
However, when there are dramatic regressions, you must seek urgent medical attention.
Stroke rehabilitation process (going to the clinic and going home)
Now that you understand the general timeline and patterns that occur during stroke rehab, let’s talk about where it all happens.
Stroke rehabilitation usually continues with therapy sessions at the clinic
Following the short hospital stay after stroke treatment, most patients are discharged or referred to a rehabilitation clinic.
During the therapy sessions at the clinic, the patient will work with a physical and / or occupational therapist to rehabilitate their sequelae.
Unfortunately, insurance often stops coverage once stagnation hits. At this point, it is important to find a solid therapy program to follow at home.
A strong home rehabilitation regimen is essential
The key to effective home stroke rehabilitation is to do something every day, if the body can tolerate it.
(Taking days to rest can help speed recovery because the brain needs rest to heal!)
Ask your therapist for effective stroke exercises to practice at home, or get your own home therapy system.
Finding Hope During Stroke Rehab
And now we have reached our final and favorite part: Hope!
Statistically, only 10% of stroke patients achieve full recovery. While that might not leave much room for hope, consider this:
Mass practice can be applied to almost anything. Here are some examples:
- Movement disorders can be recovered by practicing physical therapy exercises.
- Speech deficits can be remedied through speech therapy exercises.
- Memory problems can be recovered by playing memory games
Simply practicing the things you want to improve at can help you recover from most of the aftermath of stroke.
When put to work (for example, in mass practice) the brain will respond. Your brain will never stop trying to recover, and neither should you.
We hope this guide has helped you understand what stroke rehab is all about!