Everything You Need to Know about Stroke Rehabilitation
April 18 2023
What to Expect as You Recover
Having a stroke changes your life forever. A sudden functional abnormality of the brain due to a blood supply interruption can lead to loss of functioning, abilities, and skills. Fortunately, there are many rehabilitation therapies designed to help you relearn skills lost after a stroke.
There can be a wide range of complications post-stroke, and each patient’s recovery will be different. But according to the Mayo Clinic, researchers have found that people who participated in a focus stroke rehabilitation program perform better than those who didn’t have stroke rehabilitation.
Your specific rehabilitation program will depend on the part or parts of your brain that were affected by the stroke. Rehabilitation can help with movement, speech, strength, and daily living skills. These programs are designed to help you regain independence and improve your overall quality of life.
Let’s take a look at what you need to know about stroke rehabilitation and what you can expect as you recover.
What is Involved in Stroke Rehabilitation?
There are many approaches to recovering from a stroke. But overall, rehabilitation focuses specifically on repetitive actions, or practicing the same thing over and over again. This will help you to regain what you may have lost due to the stroke. These repetitive actions can include:
- Physical activities, such as motor-skill exercises or range-of-motion therapy
- Technology-assisted physical activities, such as functional electrical stimulation or virtual reality
- Cognitive and emotional activities, such as therapy for cognitive disorders, psychological evaluation and treatment, and medication
There are therapies still being investigated, such as biological therapies, noninvasive brain stimulation, and alternative medicine such as acupuncture.
When Should Stroke Rehabilitation Start? And How Long Should it Last?
The sooner you begin stroke rehab, the more likely you are to regain lost skills and abilities. It’s common for stroke rehab to start as soon as 24 to 48 hours after your stroke, while you are still in the hospital.
How long you need stroke rehab depends on the severity of your stroke, related complications, and your progress during rehab. Some stroke survivors recover quickly, however, most need some form of long-term rehab that could last for months or years after their stroke. You should also expect your rehab plan to change during your recovery as you relearn skills and your needs change.
Where Can I Receive Long-Term Stroke Rehab?
Before you are released from the hospital, you and your family should work with hospital social workers and your care team to determine the best rehab setting for you. Factors to consider include your needs, what your insurance will cover, and what is most convenient for you and your family.
- Inpatient Rehab Units: these facilities are freestanding or part of a larger hospital or clinic. You may stay at this facility for up to 2 to 3 weeks as part of an intensive rehab program.
- Outpatient Units: these facilities are often part of a hospital or clinic. You generally spend a few hours at the facility for a couple of days a week to work on rehab.
- Skilled Nursing Facilities: some nursing facilities specialize in rehabilitation, while others offer less-intense therapy options.
- Home-Based Programs: many home healthcare agencies offer in-home therapy. This option offers greater flexibility than other options. Access to specialized rehab equipment depends on the agency and insurance coverage for home-based programs can vary.
Who is Part of My Rehab Care Team?
Stroke rehabilitation requires a variety of specialists to help with your needs.
Specialists who help with physical needs include:
- Doctors: your primary care doctor, neurologists, and specialists in physical medicine and rehabilitation.
- Rehabilitation Nurses: nurses who specialize in caring for people with limitations within activities and help with options for managing bowel and bladder complications resulting from a stroke.
- Physical Therapists: these therapists help you relearn movements, such as walking and balance.
- Occupational Therapists: these therapists assist you with leading a more independent and active life. They can help you relearn daily living activity skills, such as dressing and bathing. They also assist with improving your ability to swallow and your cognitive ability.
Specialists who focus on cognitive, emotional, and vocational skills include:
- Speech Language Pathologists: they help improve your language skills; address memory, thinking, and communication problems; and your ability to swallow.
- Social Workers: they help connect you to financial resources, plan for new living arrangements if necessary, and identify community resources.
- Psychologists: they assess your thinking skills and help address your mental and emotional health concerns.
- Therapeutic Recreation Specialists: these specialists help you resume activities and roles you once enjoyed prior to the stroke, including hobbies and socializing.
- Vocational Counselors: these specialists help you address return-to-work issues, if that is one of your goals.
How Long Will My Stroke Rehab Take?
There are several factors that can affect the outcome of stroke rehabilitation; this makes stroke recovery vary from person to person. It is often hard to predict how many abilities you might recover and how soon. In general, however, successful stroke rehab depends on:
- Physical factors, including severity of your stroke in terms of both cognitive and physical effects
- Emotional factors, such as your motivation and mood as well as your ability to stick with rehab activities outside of therapy sessions
- Social factors, such as the support of your family and friends
- Therapeutic factors, including an early start to your rehab and the skill of your rehab team
Generally, recovering from a stroke can be long and frustrating for many. Know that it is normal to face difficulties along the way. However, dedication and a willingness to work toward improvement can help you gain the most benefit from your rehab.
Why Home Care is the Best Option for Stroke Rehabilitation!
All American home care offers expert in-home stroke rehabilitation. We believe that in-home rehab is the best option to aid in your recovery. Many experts have found that home healthcare for stroke patients actually speeds up their recovery! Contact us today to learn more about our expert stroke rehab and care to help your loved one recover fast and have a better quality of life!