Recovery and rehabilitation from a stroke
Recovery and rehabilitation from a stroke can take a long time, and it can be hard to keep motivated. Here are some suggestions that may help:
- Try to think positively and focus on what you want to achieve.
- Set achievable goals that mean something to you and will help to keep you motivated.
- Get friends or family members on board with what you’re trying to do. They can help support you.
- Try to work any exercises you need to do into your everyday tasks.
- Keep a record of the progress you’re making.
Complications of stroke
Some strokes can be quite mild and you recover from them quickly. Others can be more severe and cause a range of ongoing problems. Some people don’t survive having a stroke.
Long-term complications can include:
- physical problems – for example, weakness on one side of your body, difficulties with co-ordination or balance, and stiff, tight muscles
- sensory problems with changes in how you feel touch, temperature and pain
- difficulty swallowing, which can make it hard to eat and drink
- feeling exhausted and having problems sleeping
- communication problems including difficulties with your speech, reading and writing
- problems with your vision – for example, you might have double vision, blurry vision or find it hard to see
- cognitive problems – this means difficulties with thinking, memory and concentration
- difficulty controlling your bladder and bowel movements (incontinence or constipation)
- emotional difficulties – for example, those close to you may notice changes in your behaviour or you may feel anxious or depressed
- sexual problems due to both the physical and emotional effects of your stroke
These problems can make it difficult to carry on with your normal daily activities after having a stroke. You may find it a struggle to take care of yourself and to live independently.
Recovering from stroke
Having a stroke can lead to a number of long-term problems. You may need to relearn how to do certain things or change the way you do them. This is known as stroke rehabilitation. With the right help and support, you can begin to enjoy life again and may be able to regain some independence. The doctors and nurses looking after you in hospital will assess you before you leave and work out a rehabilitation plan. You’ll have follow-up appointments to check how you’re getting on. You may see various different health professionals, including:
- physiotherapists to help strengthen your muscles and improve your mobility, balance and coordination
- occupational therapists who can help you to relearn everyday skills like dressing and caring for yourself
- speech and language therapists to help with any problems you’re having with speech or swallowing
- a dietitian to make sure you’re still able to get all the nutrients you need
- counsellors who can help provide emotional support
Prevention of stroke
There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to help reduce your risk of having a stroke. If you’ve already had a stroke, they’ll reduce your risk of having another. They include the following.
- Being more active, and reducing the time you spend sitting down.
- If you smoke, stopping smoking.
- Making sure you’re following a healthy diet, with at least five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. Reducing how much saturated fat and salt you have.
- Maintaining a healthy weight, and losing excess weight if you need to.
- If you drink alcohol, making sure you keep within recommended limits