It’s natural after having a stroke to be discouraged by new limitations, but don’t give into those feelings. Many medical and therapeutic advancements continue to help improve the outcome after a stroke. With the right support and a positive attitude, you can successfully return to an excellent quality of life.
Physical and mental effects of a stroke
Everyone is different, and everyone’s road to recovery is different, but there are some common physical changes that can take place after a stroke. Some of the most common include:
- Weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, including the face
- Problems with coordination and balance
- Spasticity – muscles that become stiff and tight
- Vision issues
- Cognitive impairment – ability to make decisions, follow directions
- Difficulty communicating your needs
- Difficulty reading or writing
- Changes in emotions; ability to control anger, outbursts; depression, anxiety
- Difficulty swallowing without choking
- Difficulty providing self-care
Not everyone has all these symptoms, and many of these will lessen over time as you work with your therapists and stay consistent. You and your caregivers should explore the many therapies, medications, and technologies that can help you recover.
Creating a post-stroke plan
In the beginning, you will have to be dependent upon your medical team and your loved ones to put the plan in place and help you stick to it. But as you continue to improve, you should provide your input to customize your post-stroke recovery plan to ensure the best possible outcome.
Depending upon your condition, you may go into a rehab center for intensive therapy before switching to outpatient therapy. The important job you and your caregivers have is to keep working on the therapies even when you are home. Keep moving forward. While it might be hard now, it is so important that you keep moving forward under the guidance of your medical team.
You may be put on medications to reduce blood pressure or cholesterol or to prevent blood clots. Your caregiver should have a written schedule with your medication in pill boxes divided by day and time in order to guarantee that whoever is helping you will know what medications to give you and when.
Communicate your needs to your team, including caregivers and medical personnel. If your ability to communicate is limited, develop a method of sign language, notes, or “20 questions” to which you can answer yes or no.
The inability to communicate clearly is one of the most frustrating issues post-stroke. But if you can maintain a positive attitude, you could think of it as a game – how many attempts will it take to get my caregiver to understand me? Each time you improve, you win. There will be ups and downs in the process of recovery, but a steady trend of being better understood and finding better methods can give you a sense of accomplishment.
In fact, there are many communication aids that will help you as you work toward recovery. If you can point, you can spell out words on an alphabet card. Picture cards are another helpful tool. These have pictures of what you may like to do (brush your teeth, eat) or how you feel (hungry, anxious, nauseous). Text-to-speech features and word prediction software may be helpful, depending on your needs.
In the beginning, your caregivers and medical team will be responsible for helping you make lifestyle changes, such as diet changes, that should decrease your risk of another stroke. Your team should also put into place a means of quickly communicating with emergency care services if you begin to have another stroke. Neuralert’s stroke detection system provides an early warning system to alert your medical team quickly in order to get help to you right away.
Our stroke-detection wristbands look like smartwatches and are driven by artificial intelligence that can detect 65% of strokes within 30 minutes and 94% within 80 minutes. This early alert can decrease the risk of serious disability from an undiagnosed stroke. Unfortunately, 25% of all strokes are repeat strokes, so don’t neglect to develop some kind of early warning system.
The stroke patient’s job
Post-stroke, you have three essential responsibilities: keep trying to recover, never give up, and work to clearly communicate how you feel and what help you need. By working with your team and being patient with yourself and your progress, you will be most likely to reach a high level of recovery and happiness. Everything may not be exactly the way it was before, but life can be very good.
You or your caregiver should talk candidly with your medical team to keep you continually moving forward. And ask your doctor about Neuralert stroke detection system, in order to hopefully avoid serious disability from another stroke.