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How to Treat a Stroke Survivor for Faster Recovery

Henry Hoffman
Friday, May 25th, 2018


When someone you love experiences a stroke, a number of difficulties will soon arise. Aside from the initial attack, there is a range of physical, emotional, and mental problems that could arise, each presenting a new set of challenges.

What Is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off. Here are two ways it can happen:

 

  • Ischemic Stroke: A clot forms within a blood vessel and halts blood flow; or
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke: A blood vessel within the brain leaks or bursts (brain aneurysm).

 

These types of events can be fatal, because blood flow to the brain is crucial for neural tissue to live and carry out its functions. If care isn’t received immediately after an attack strikes, brain cells will begin to die at a rapid pace, leaving the patient vulnerable to dire complications.

 

Depending on the severity of an attack —the intensity of a stroke can range from low to high— a survivor can expect to undergo various kinds of treatment throughout the recovery process. During this period, it’s helpful to remember that you and your loved one have options, and there are many forms of assistance available.

Emphasize the Importance of the Process

Treatment for stroke survivors begins as soon as they arrive at the hospital. Taking immediate action during or after an attack has the potential to alleviate damage that has been done throughout the body. In some cases, prompt treatment has even counteracted the effects of a stroke. However, most stroke survivors will be referred to a rehabilitation center once their attack has fully subsided (anywhere from 2-3 days), and a therapy regimen can begin.

 

Throughout this transition, here are some healthcare professionals you or your loved one may encounter:

 

  • Physiatrist: Serves as your main physician, overseeing status reports, medical assessments, and recovery progress.
  • Rehab Nurse: Helps ensure a stroke survivor’s overall wellbeing and offers support with exercises and medications.
  • Physical Therapist: Provides guidance and assistance with a survivor’s daily physical movements.
  • Occupational Therapist: Facilitates function and motor recovery to increase independence in the stroke survivors life.
  • Speech Therapist: Work to treat speech disorders and swallowing.


 

On a daily basis, a stroke survivor will interact with specialists like these to ensure that their health and abilities are improving. After a positive consensus is reached, a patient may have the opportunity to return home, but everyone’s situation is different.

 Each treatment program is unique to a survivor’s needs and a team of trained professionals — along with the support of family and friends — can make all the difference when it comes to rebuilding one’s life after an attack.

 

Understand the Survivor’s Needs and Make a Plan

After consulting with the primary doctor, you’ll have a better understanding of what your loved one will be up against throughout the recovery process. By staying informed and receiving detailed reports on your loved one’s condition, you can begin to create a plan for both short-term and long-term goals.

 

Here are some key questions to keep in mind when formulating a strategy:

 

  • How independent will they be at home, and what will home care consist of?
  • Should someone be there to help with daily tasks (getting out of bed, showering, getting dressed, preparing meals, etc.)?
  • Will they be able to use the bathroom unattended?
  • Should someone be there to ensure proper hygiene?
  • Will they have trouble with any physical functions?
  • Is mobility a concern?
  • Should they use a wheelchair or walker to get around the house?
  • How are their communication skills (reading, writing, speaking, etc.)?
  • Can they make rational decisions and use good judgement?
  • Are there any behavioral issues to be aware of?
  • Are there any future medical concerns to prepare for?

 

Unfortunately, your team of healthcare professionals cannot predict what will happen, but it never hurts to consider the possibilities. No matter how many questions you have, or what their answers may be, opening channels of communication can give you peace of mind by allowing you to observe the situation from all angles.

 

Regardless of how much assistance a loved one will need, you’ll feel better knowing that you’re ready for anything. However, you must also ask yourself if taking on such responsibilities is something you’re prepared to do. Keep in mind that your life will become subject to new challenges, so make sure you’re fully able to be patient and steadfast throughout the course of their redevelopment.

Progress Can Feel Slow, But Staying Engaged Keeps It Going

Progress during rehabilitation happens at its own pace. Don’t feel discouraged if your loved one isn’t seeing the results they hoped for. It’s important to remember that everyone’s situation is different, which means that some people may see results in their first few months after an attack, whereas others may not see progress until after their first couple of years. No matter what the case may be, remaining positive will put you in a mindset to succeed, and a healthy attitude is half the battle when helping a stroke survivor recover.

How to Help Stroke Survivors Stay Positive by Tracking Progress

One of the best ways to promote a positive outlook is to keep track of the progress being made throughout the recovery process. Documenting the successful steps forward taken in the process can give a survivor necessary perspective on their improvement and optimism about future work in the journey. Taking videos during therapy sessions can be very clear proof of growth and improvement for many survivors. Others may enjoy the more personal experience of journaling their rehabilitation experience, or using an assessment such as the Canadian Occupational Performance Measure to address items of personal importance and how one is improving with them.

Defend Against Depression by Maintaining Consistent Contact with Survivors

With the weight of so many factors on a survivor’s shoulders, depression is a common side effect of stroke. One in four stroke survivors develop depression at some point after an attack. To make matters worse, depression can severely hinder a patient’s progress on many levels — physical, emotional, and mental. If a loved one is experiencing depression after an attack, meet with a healthcare professional right away to discuss treatment options. In situations like these, many survivors seek the therapeutic benefits of community by engaging in support groups. Support groups offer opportunities to listen, learn, discuss and socialize with people who have a particular kind of lived experience in common.

Stay on Top of Bills and Insurance Coverage

Nobody likes to worry about money, so staying informed about insurance coverage and medical bills is a must, especially when juggling the cost of rehabilitation and other health services. It can be tempting to ignore the issue and hope that it works out, but it’s always advisable to consult with your medical provider in advance, to clarify what options will be covered under your current plan. It is also imperative that you discuss the duration of your coverage, as well as how much is expected to be paid out of pocket. All rehabilitation programs are different, so be sure to research as much as you can to avoid any hidden fees.

Help Survivors Help Themselves

Experiencing a stroke is something no one can plan for, which makes it an extremely difficult thing to overcome. It may seem like an overwhelming task at first, but rebuilding one’s life after a stroke is entirely possible. As long as there is a solid network of support, strong lines of communication, and proper preparation, a healthy recovery is well within reach.

Here at Saebo, we are committed to stroke support and recovery for all survivors and their families. With a wide range of products and Saebo-trained therapists, our offerings and network can help you or a loved one in the journey to full rehabilitation.


All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 immediately. Reliance on any information provided by the Saebo website is solely at your own risk.



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