Recovery from a Stroke
Stroke affects everybody differently. Many stroke survivors continue to improve over a long period of time, sometimes over a number of years. Recovery from stroke involves making changes in the physical, social and, emotional aspects of your life. This also involves making lifestyle changes to prevent additional strokes and help facilitate your life-long recovery.
It is normal to feel angry, anxious or depressed after a stroke. You may feel worried about work, money, relationships – and the tiredness caused by a stroke can make things worse.
Rehabilitation is about getting back to a normal life and living as independent as possible. It involves taking an active approach to ensure that your life goes on. This can mean learning new skills or relearning old ones. It may involve adapting to new limitations and post-stroke conditions. It can also mean finding new social, emotional, and practical support to live your best life post-stroke.
With good care and rehabilitation, there is life after stroke.
Survivors who have had one stroke are at high risk of having another one if the treatment recommendations are not followed. Make sure your loved one eats a healthy diet, exercises (taking walks is great exercise), take medications as prescribed and has regular visits with their physician to help prevent a second stroke.
Reduce risks, or stroke may strike again
The most rapid recovery usually occurs during the first three to four months after a stroke, but some stroke survivors continue to recover well into the first and second year post-stroke.
Gains can happen quickly or over time
Recovery depends on many different factors: where in the brain the stroke occurred, how much of the brain was affected, the patient’s motivation, caregiver support, the quantity and quality of rehabilitation, and how healthy the survivor was before the stroke. Because every stroke and stroke survivor is unique, avoid comparisons.
Many factors influence recovery
Falls after stroke are common. If a fall is serious and results in severe pain, bruising or bleeding, go the Emergency Department for treatment. If a loved one experiences minor falls (with no injury) that occur more than two times within six months, see your physician or a physical therapist for treatment.
Caregivers should consider seeking assistance from a physical or occupational therapist if their loved one has any of these complaints: dizziness; imbalance that results in falls, difficulty walking or moving around in daily life; inability to walk six minutes without stopping to rest; inability to do things that he/she enjoys, like recreational activities or outings with family, or increased need for help to engage in daily activities.
Some signs point to physical therapy
How much acute rehabilitation therapy your loved one receives depends partly on his/her rate of improvement. Stroke survivors on an acute rehabilitation unit are expected to make measurable functional gains every week as measured by the Functional Independence Measure Score (FIMS). Functional improvements include activities of daily living skills, mobility skills, and communication skills. The typical rehabilitation expectation is improving 1 to 2 FIM points per day.
Measuring progress matters
Medicare coverage for rehabilitation therapies may be available if your loved one’s physical function has changed. It there appears to be an improvement or a decline in motor skills, speech or self-care since the last time the patient was in therapy, he/she may be eligible for more services.
A change in abilities can trigger a change in services
Evaluate whether your loved one is showing signs of emotional lability (when a person has difficulty controlling their emotions). Consult a physician to develop a plan of action.
Monitor changes in attitude and behavior
Post-stroke depression is common, with as many as 30–50 percent of stroke survivors developing depression in the early or later phases post stroke. Post-stroke depression can significantly affect your loved one’s recovery and rehabilitation. Consult a physician to develop a plan of action.
Stop depression before it hinders recovery
Community resources, such as stroke survivor and caregiver support groups, are available for you and your loved one. Stay in touch with a case manager, social worker or discharge planner who can help you find resources in your community.
Seek out support
Be sure to consult with your loved one's doctor, case manager or social worker to find out how much and how long insurance will pay for rehabilitation services. Rehabilitation services can vary substantially from one case to another. Clarify what medical and rehabilitation services are available for hospital and outpatient care. Determine the length of coverage provided by your insurance (private or government supported) and what out-of-pocket expenses you can expect.
Learn the ins and outs of insurance coverage
If rehabilitation services are denied due to lack of “medical necessity,” ask your loved one’s physician to intervene on his or her behalf. Ask the physician to provide records to the insurance carrier and, if needed, follow up yourself by calling the insurance company.
Know when to enlist help
You have rights to access your loved one's medical and rehabilitation records. You are entitled to copies of the medical records, including written notes and brain imaging films.
Know your rights
Take a break from caregiving by asking another family member, friend or neighbor to help while you take time for yourself. Keep balance in your life by eating right, exercising or walking daily, and getting adequate rest.
Take care of you
15 Things Caregivers Should Know After a Loved One Has experienced a Stroke
Be aware of the medications that have been prescribed to your loved one and their side effects. Ask if your home should be modified to meet the specific needs of the stroke survivor. Ask a doctor, nurse or therapist to clarify any unanswered questions, or provide written information that explains what occurs after the stroke, during recovery, or rehabilitation.
It’s better to find out than miss out
unc Lenoir inpatient Rehabilitation Center
The mission of the UNC Lenoir Inpatient Rehabilitation Center is to provide, promote, and support the delivery of comprehensive rehabilitation services in order to enhance the lives of those individuals who have altered functional ability as a result of neurological and/or musculoskeletal impairment. During this time of rehabilitation, we want to partner with you and your families to aid you in accomplishing the highest level of independence possible. Established in 1993, this 17-bed unit gives both help and hope to people who have physical impairments. The goal of the center is to help patients reach the highest level of independence possible. Our patients include those who have neurological disorders, arthritis, amputations, orthopedic problems, general debilitation, and stroke.