Recovery After Stroke
So, you’ve had a stroke. What happens next?
The initial treatment that occurs after a stroke is usually emergency care that monitors the patient’s health and identifies what type of stroke they experienced.
Rehabilitation efforts can begin as soon as 24 hours after the stroke, but there are many factors that need to be considered prior to initiating a rehabilitation program. Your medical team will help identify when to begin and guide the intensity.
According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, most people remain in the hospital for between five and seven days after having a stroke. During this time, a diverse team of medical professionals attends to the patient and therapy can be as frequent as several times a day while the patient’s rehabilitation plan is developed.
Depending on the type and severity of the stroke, there are many different types of therapy a person may receive in their recovery.
- Physical Therapy: According to the National Institute on Aging, the goal of physical therapy is to have the patient relearn motor activities such as walking, sitting, standing, and lying down.
- Occupational Therapy: Focuses on improving daily activities, such as eating, drinking, dressing, bathing, reading, and writing.
- Speech Therapy: Can help the estimated 35% of stroke survivors who suffer from aphasia after their stroke.
Outside of these therapy sessions, a stroke survivor may also meet with several other medical professionals, such as:
- Primary Care Physicians: Plan long-term care strategies while managing the patient’s general health to help prevent future strokes.
- Rehabilitation nurses: Professionals who help the patient while in hospital care and help to train family members and/or caretakers after a stroke.
- Neurologists: Usually direct the post-stroke care team while the patient is in the hospital.
- Psychiatrists and Psychologists: Work with patients to deal with and treat any depression or mental illness that may follow a stroke.
Where Does Recovery Take Place?
Rehabilitation and recovery after a stroke can take place in various settings, depending on the needs of the patient.
- Inpatient facilities: Usually accommodate patients for between two and four weeks for intensive rehabilitation programs.
- Outpatient programs: Normally in the form of a clinic a patient visits a few times a week for physical or occupational therapy sessions.
- In-home visits: Clinicians can visit patients at their home’s to allow for more comfort and less transportation burden.
How Long Does Recovery Take?
According to Dr. April Pruski, a stroke rehabilitation specialist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, stroke recovery looks different for every survivor, but there are some timeline generalities.
The first three months following a stroke are crucial in the recovery process. During this time, most patients work on relearning activities of daily living, either through inpatient rehabilitation programs, or outpatient therapy.
While the most significant improvements usually occur within the first three months post-stroke, recovery does not end there. Improvements may take longer after the six month or one year mark, but are still possible. Busting the six month myth for stroke recovery is important for allowing survivors to regain as much function as possible.