Stroke Recovery

Why long term stroke recovery is important for stroke survivors

Stroke recovery starts with rapid diagnosis and treatment, and is the process where an individual undergoes treatment and therapy to recover from a stroke. It encompasses a variety of different treatments that are administered by many different professionals including health care workers, social workers and psychologists. Stroke recovery may occur at the hospital, specialized rehabilitation facilities, long-term rehabilitation clinics, or at home with a visiting specialist.

According to the Stroke Survivors Association of Ottawa, 64% of stroke survivors have a motor defect after one month, while after a year this will have lessened to 50%. A year after having a stroke, between 20-30% of stroke survivors have difficulty speaking or understanding language, a condition called aphasia. People with aphasia are capable of forming rational thoughts in their head but cannot properly communicate these thoughts. Depending on the case, it is possible for aphasia to be treated through stroke recovery treatment.

Stroke recovery is essential and most effective during the first few months to a year after a stroke, yet rehabilitation does not occur nearly as often as it should. A study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal shows that less than 30 percent of stroke surviving Canadians undergo stroke recovery.

A drug called Tissue Plasminogen Activator, or tPA, is commonly given within the first three hours of having a stroke. It is important to seek medical attention immediately – dial 911 at the first signs of a stroke so this medication may be given as soon as possible. It has been proven that tPA is effective in reducing the amount of damage to the heart muscle, as well as in preventing further disability. If used within the first three hours of having a stroke, it can get rid of the blood clots that are responsible for most strokes, and is therefore an important first step in stroke recovery.

Research has shown that tPA has a 6.4% chance of inducing a hemorrhage, though people who take it have between 30 to 50 percent greater chance of complete or near-complete recovery. Treatment should not stop after the administration of this drug. Long term stroke recovery therapy must also accompany immediate treatment.

Every person's stroke recovery program is different. Physiotherapists can help stroke survivors recover their coordination, improve mobility and learn how to best move their body with any new limitations imposed by the stroke. Stroke recovery may also include psychologists, who can help stroke survivors through memory problems, and speech therapists can help those who have trouble communicating through reading, writing and speaking.

Strokes may be life-altering events, but there are many possibilities for stroke survivors. For those who suffered brain damage a full recovery is never possible, but stroke recovery can help them get the most out of life with any new hardships imposed on them.