Brain injury due to stroke can change the way you move, feel, think, or speak. The effects are greatest right after the stroke.
Over time, most people will make improvements.
Stroke rehabilitation programs can help, though stroke rehabilitation will not “cure” or reverse brain damage.
The goals of stroke rehabilitation are to help stroke survivors live as independently as possible while adjusting to new limitations.
Rehabilitation usually starts in the hospital, within a day or two of the stroke. Stroke rehabilitation may continue for months or even years after leaving the hospital.
The types of therapy will depend on what parts of the brain were damaged during the stroke.
Stroke survivors may require:
- Speech therapy
- Physical therapy and strength training
- Occupational therapy (re-learning skills required for daily living)
- Psychological counseling
Speech Therapy After Stroke
Stroke survivors may have trouble speaking, finding words, or understanding what other people are saying. This is called aphasia.
Speech-language pathologists help people with aphasia relearn how to use language and communicate.
Therapy may include repeating words as well as reading and writing exercises.
Physical Therapy After Stroke
Stroke can cause problems with movement. Paralysis, or loss of muscle function, is common after stroke — especially on one side of the body.
Physical therapy can help stroke survivors regain strength, coordination, balance, and control of movement.
Occupational Therapy After Stroke
Occupational therapists or rehabilitation nurses can help stroke survivors relearn some of the skills they will need to care for themselves after a stroke.
Rehabilitation nurses may help stroke survivors manage their personal care, such as bathing and washing.
They can also help with therapy to regain continence (control of bladder and bowel movements) after a stroke.
Occupational therapists may help stroke survivors relearn how to do activities such as preparing meals, cleaning the house, and driving.
Psychological Counseling After Stroke
Stroke can cause chemical changes in the brain that affect the way a person thinks, feels, and behaves.
At the same time, stroke rehabilitation can be a long and difficult process.
Even after rehabilitation is complete, most stroke survivors will live with some minor to moderate disabilities.
Many stroke survivors will require mental health counseling and medications to help address issues such as depression, anxiety, frustration, and anger.
It’s important to identify and treat mental health issues such as depression early in the recovery process.
Stroke survivors that are depressed may be less likely to follow through with stroke rehabilitation and treatment plans.
Where Can a Stroke Patient Get Rehab?
Before you leave the hospital, a hospital social worker will meet with you and your family to assess what type of rehabilitation programs and living situation you will need while recovering from a stroke.