Learning to Adjust to Life Following a Stroke

Statistics indicate that strokes are often life-altering. Sadly, fifteen percent will die, twenty-five percent will recover with only minor impairment and ten percent will almost completely recover. But the rest, fifty percent, will require some type of care.

There are huge challenges in adjusting to the effects of a stroke. There will likely be fear, apprehension, uncertainty and usually life changes. It will be important for the stroke sufferer to gain some control over his/her life and to work towards independence. They will need to work diligently to improve their emotional and physical well-being by thinking positively. It will be important for them to remain positive as expectations, by necessity, will be altered.

Adaptations will have to be made to overcome limitations. Practicing daily will be necessary as continual effort will have a cumulative effect on their abilities. It will be important to set goals, to do things they enjoy, to be social and to try new things. It will be important also to accept the many changes in their life and to adjust to how their stroke affects other people. It will be natural to initially fear the future because strokes affect the body, mind and emotions.

Following a stroke there may be some paralysis, weakness in the limbs, difficulties with balance or language, pain or vague sensations of feeling in their body, cognitive and memory problems, feelings of frustration, feeling a sense of loss, difficulties with bowel or bladder control, fatigue, trouble swallowing or difficulty maintaining their hygiene. There may also be depression. It will be important to seek help if depression is suspected.

In some cases brain cells may be only temporarily damaged. In other cases, different areas of the brain will take over from the damaged areas. Rehabilitation will play a large part in helping the stroke patient. Goal setting will also be important. And as with everything, a proper diet is necessary.

It will be important for either the stroke-impaired person or his/her caregiver to ask questions regarding their care, to allow him/her to express their wishes and opinions and to be made a partner in their own health care. It will be important to keep them informed and to encourage them to join a stroke support group.

Special equipment may also be required following a stroke, i.e.: a cane, walker, wheelchair, orthotic devices or communication aids. There are also services available such as meals on wheels and transportation services.

Adjusting to the effects of a stroke will be different for each stroke survivor because like every brain injury, each stroke is different also. A lot will depend on the attitude of the survivor and how hard he/she is willing to work at rehabilitation. It will also depend on the severity of the stroke and where it was. Whether there is a family member and/or caregiver available to assist with follow-up care and rehabilitation will make a difference too in both physical recovery and a positive attitude.

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