Treatment for the acute episode of a
is either medical or surgical. But, medical therapies are more common. Once the acute period is over and your condition has stabilized, the process of rehabilitation begins.
Rehabilitation is an important part of the recovery process. It may begin in the acute setting, then continue for months to years after the stroke. You may need to learn new ways to do activities of daily living. Many assistive technologies and adaptive tools are available to assist you in gaining self-sufficiency. The best outcomes are achieved by participating in focused programs that use repetition to rebuild skills and abilities.
Your ability to speak or understand the spoken word may be affected by the stroke. Speech therapy will assist you in regaining this important ability. It may take considerable time and effort.
You may have trouble with walking. Even just sitting up may require extensive retraining of major muscle groups and coordination. You may need to use walking aids, such as a cane or braces, to compensate for weakened muscles. Physical therapy will be a very important part of maximizing your recovery. During regular therapy sessions, a physical therapist can teach you how to move about after a stroke that has caused leg or body weakness.
Studies have found that occupational therapy can improve the types of activities that you do every day (like feeding, dressing, bathing, and going to the toilet). Your doctor can refer you to physical and occupational therapists.
Hands and arms may also suffer from a stroke. You may have to relearn how to do things that you once felt were simple, such as writing or feeding yourself. Occupational therapists have a number of assistive devices to improve these functions when damaged by a stroke.
For the first time in your adult life, you may have to depend on others to feed you, move you, dress you, get you to the bathroom, even just to stay alive. This is the most difficult aspect of stroke for most people.
In addition to family and friends, there are many professional caregivers with the skills to help you with your daily living activities. Your doctor and other members of your healthcare team will connect you with the help you will need.
Recovery may happen within days or it may take months. Along with your treatment team, set reasonable goals and put your best effort to achieve them.
often involve feeling profoundly sad and losing interest in activities that you once enjoyed.
is common after a stroke. This condition can be treated by working with a mental health therapist and taking medicines. Antidepressants may assist the brain in recovery after a stroke, helping to restore mental and motor functioning.
Your improvement may continue for many months. As it does, your needs will change. Take an active role in deciding what is best for you at each stage. Be part of the treatment team.
From the moment you arrive in the emergency room, you will be in constant touch with doctors for the duration of your symptoms. Your team will give you a list of events that require you to contact them and an indication of how urgent each event is. At the top of the list will be any new or recurrent neurological symptoms. Once you have had a stroke, your chance of having another is much greater. As you improve, make sure your doctor knows of your progress so that treatment can adjusted.
American Occupational Therapy Association website. Available at:
American Physical Therapy Association website. Available at:
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website. Available at:
Jorge R, Goldstein L, Sacco R. Antidepressants after stroke may up mental ability.
Archives of General Psychiatry. February 2010.
Kasper DL, Braunwald E, Fauci A, Hauser S, Longo D, Jameson JL.
Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 16th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 2004.
National Stroke Association website. Available at:
Post-stroke rehabilitation fact sheet. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website. Available at:
http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/stroke/poststrokerehab.htm. Accessed February 4, 2010.
10/22/2007 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Legg L, Drummond A, Leonardi-Bee J, et al. Occupational therapy for patients with problems in personal activities of daily living after stroke: systematic review of randomised trials.
2007 Sep 27. [Epub ahead of print]
10/9/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Mitchell PH, Veith RC, Becker KJ, et al. Brief psychosocial-behavioral intervention with antidepressant reduces poststroke depression significantly more than usual care with antidepressant: living well with stroke: randomized, controlled trial.
1/14/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance
http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php: Chollet F, Tardy J, Albucher JF, et al. Fluoxetine for motor recovery after acute ischaemic stroke (FLAME): a randomised placebo-controlled trial.
Lancet Neurol. 2011 Jan 7.
Last reviewed September 2012 by Rimas Lukas, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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