Strokes change more than 795,000 lives in the United States each year. In fact, brain blockages and bleeds are some of the most common causes of disability and are leading causes of death.
While recovering from a stroke can take years, the most rapid recovery typically occurs during the first three months after a stroke. This period is considered the “golden” time when neuroplasticity enables the brain to adjust to the damage that has been done and to learn new ways of doing things.
One patient’s rehab journey might include therapy to improve balance, strength, or mobility, while another might need speech or other therapies. Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 pandemic, recent stroke patients may be going without rehab during this “golden” time and other survivors may be forgoing helpful therapy.
No one size fits all
A rehabilitation program designed for you is critical. The pandemic has required rehabilitation professionals to get creative to deliver essential therapies to stroke survivors. Now, sessions may be held via video call,s or there may be enhanced collaboration with organizations providing in-home support and an increased emphasis on personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and patients at in-person visits.
The American Stroke Association suggests the following recovery tips and resources for stroke survivors and their caregivers:
- Ask the doctor for an assessment of physical and cognitive challenges you face after stroke and a specific plan to address each challenge.
- Work with your doctor to get a plan to manage risk factors to prevent another stroke. This may include being physically active, not smoking, and managing your blood pressure.
- Early rehabilitation matters. As soon as your medical team gives the “all clear,” start your personalized rehabilitation program right away. Don’t delay.
- Talk with your healthcare provider about any financial constraints, such as ability to pay for medications, so a plan can be developed to identify alternative community resources.
- Communicate and follow up regularly with a team of healthcare providers as some challenges — such as remembering medications — may not be immediately clear.
For more information about recovery and how to make informed decisions after a stroke, visit stroke.org/recovery.