If you have recently suffered a stroke, you are not alone. Nearly 800,000 people in the United States each year will have a stroke. The severity of the stroke and the area of the brain affected by the stroke will determine which abilities will be affected. These often include speech, movement and memory. Someone experiencing a minor stroke may experience weakness in an arm or a leg, while someone having a major stroke suffer paralysis on one side of their body or lose her ability to speak.
Your top priority after suffering a stroke is to recover as quickly as possible and relearn the skills you may have lost. Taking part in stroke rehabilitation can help you regain your independence. However, how quickly and successfully you recover depends on a several factors, including:
- The severity of damage to your brain.
- How soon after your stroke you begin rehab.
- A good support network of family and friends.
Depending on the areas of the brain affected by a stroke, rehab may include:
- Communications therapy to help you regain any lost abilities to speak, listen, write and comprehend.
- Physical exercise to strengthen motor skills and improve muscle strength and coordination.
- Assistance in learning to use walking aids such as walkers or canes to support your body's weight while you relearn how to walk.
- Stretching and exercises to reduce muscle tension and improve range of motion.
- Psychological and emotional therapy to help you adapt to the changes that have occurred.
- Constraint-induced therapy restricting the use of an unaffected limb to encourage use of an affected limb.
- Electrical stimulation to build muscle strength.
Most often stroke rehabilitation begins while you are still in the hospital and then moves to an outside setting depending on your needs. It may be necessary to stay at an in-patient facility for a while for intensive therapy. You may also be able to relearn skills at an outpatient clinic in which you spend several hours a day but return home each night.
Talk to your physician about what options are best for you. Remember, recovering from a stroke can take a long time. Don't get discouraged.