If you or a loved one has suffered a stroke, you are in the company of almost 800,000 other Americans who experience a stroke every year. More than 7 million Americans have had a stroke at some time, and many are still living with the effects.
The effects of stroke can differ widely, depending on which part of the brain is damaged and the severity of the stroke. While the effects of stroke can be quite serious, the research news is not all bad: 10 percent of stroke survivors recover completely and another 25 percent recover with relatively minor impairments, according to the National Stroke Association. While rehabilitation cannot “heal” stroke, it can help patients achieve the best possible outcome and improve independent living and quality of life.
When and How Does Recovery Begin?
Rehabilitation aims to help patients “relearn” skills that are lost or impaired when stroke occurs. Think of how you first learned a new skill, such as riding a bicycle. The ability to learn the skill came with practice. It’s the same with recovery from stroke. Rehabilitation professionals agree that the most important key to success is carefully directed, well-focused repetitive practice. Recovery also involves learning new ways of doing things. For example, patients may learn to bathe or dress themselves using one hand.
Rehabilitation therapy begins in the hospital within 24 to 48 hours after the stroke occurs. Because the stroke may cause weakness or paralysis, the first part of recovery involves independent movement. A therapist may help the patient move their limbs at first. This is called “passive” therapy. Patients may also be encouraged to perform exercises on their own if they can.
Regaining the ability to carry out the basic activities of daily living is the first step to returning to independent living. Ongoing therapy with a variety of therapists may be needed for months or even years.
In our next blog post, learn about ways rehabilitation can make a huge difference.
Source: Assisting Hands Home Care in association with IlluminAge. Copyright © IlluminAge, 2015.
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