Recently a number of young celebrities have publicly shared their stroke stories, and we should applaud them for their courage to bring attention to the incidence of stroke in young people.
About 10% of stroke patients are under the age of 50. This means they are probably at the height of their careers and raising their families. These factors present some difficult emotional and financial challenges for younger stroke victims on top of the physical challenges of recovery they will face.
Challenges for young stroke patients
The long-term prognosis for young people who have strokes is very good, with most people living independently and more than 50% returning to work. But for young stroke victims, there can be a greater sense of bleakness, because they’ve gone from being active and productive to being limited in their ability to think clearly, communicate, and move their bodies.
All stroke victims need moral support, but even more so for younger people. They have the best chance of full or nearly-full recovery if they remain positive and do not give up. A strong support system will provide mental, physical, and emotional support as they face the road ahead.
Young people don’t usually have the system of help that older people have because young people aren’t usually in “need” of help. Seniors tend to have family members looking in on them, helping them with strenuous chores, etc., so when a senior has a stroke, there’s a framework of support in existence already. Not so for young people.
Finances and insurance can be huge hurdles for younger stroke patients, as well, since they don’t have Medicare or Social Security already in place.
How you can help
One of the most important things family and friends can do is fight for their loved one to receive rigorous therapy and rehab. Because of the stroke, they will undoubtedly need help completing the forms for disability and other resources available, as well as securing approval from insurance companies for needed services. Sometimes phone calls and follow-up phone calls will be necessary. Fight for your loved one as you would want someone to fight for you.
Keep your loved one motivated by engaging in favorite activities that will continue the rehab process. For instance, if your loved one enjoyed throwing the football with the kids, that’s something to work towards. There are fun video games that simulate all sorts of sports that could help a young person get that throwing arm or golf swing back.
Watch out for learned non-use. This is when a person who has an injury finds workarounds, which inadvertently cause the injured limb to atrophy. If your loved one’s left arm is weak, he might just reach with the right all the time. Challenge him to use the left more often, perhaps for closer items.
Recovery plateaus happen and can be very discouraging. But encourage your loved one to keep working. In any physical training, there are plateaus, and good trainers push their students past them. If your loved one knows that this happens in regular physical training, he might feel more encouraged to keep fighting.
In order to speed recovery, young stroke victims need to remain engaged with their community and family. Make sure your loved one gets out to events and doesn’t stay inside. Get them out and about as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Help your loved one to aim high and not to put limits on his recovery. Continued improvement may slow down after six months to a year, but it need never stop. Help your loved one maintain a positive attitude.
At some point, he may begin to ask himself what he could have done differently to prevent the stroke, but don’t bring it up first, unless the healthcare professional has recommended life changes.
While there are some lifestyle choices that have been connected to stroke in younger patients – hypertension, obesity, smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol or controlled substances – sometimes there’s no clear explanation as to why a young person has a stroke, so encourage him not to blame himself but rather to live as healthy a lifestyle as possible to prevent another stroke. This could include wearing a Neuralert stroke detection wristband.
Fully one-quarter of stroke patients will have another stroke in their lifetimes, so vigilance is key. The Neuralert system incorporates state-of-the-art AI technology with a smart wristband that can signal medical professionals when the most common sign of stroke – asymmetrical arm movement – first appears. The algorithm mathematically models out known factors of asymmetry, such as hand dominance, eating, etc., virtually eliminating false alarms. Quick treatment decreases the severity of the effects of stroke. Ask your healthcare providers about Neuralert as part of your loved one’s road to full recovery.