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New Stroke?
Start Here!

Recently Had a Stroke?

You're in the Right Place.

Hi, I'm Evan, an occupational therapist and certified neuro specialist with 7 years of experience. I run this resource and have dedicated myself to serving and empowering stroke survivors. 

I understand your challenges and hardships. As a therapist, I've noticed the stroke survivor population is often underserved. Insurance companies are reducing the number of covered visits, and there's a lack of easily understandable and evidence-based information on stroke recovery online. 

This page is dedicated to helping new stroke survivors understand their condition and empower them to take control of their situation.

Quick Links

What Else This Website Can Help With?

  1. Blog: You can learn about stroke prevention, recovery, adaptive living, and which exercises to do on my blog.

  2. Videos: I've created a new YouTube channel to educate on evidence-based practice, help viewers identify their stage of stroke recovery, and offer guided exercise videos tailored to each stage of recovery.

  3. Caregiving Help: Here is "The Ultimate Guide" for caregivers of stroke survivors. It will aid in improving your abilities as a caregiver.

What is a stroke

What is a Stroke?

The first step in understanding your situation is to comprehend what a stroke is, how it occurs, and how it affects the brain.

Experiencing a stroke can be a difficult and frightening event. A stroke stroke is a brain injury. It happens when a blood clot obstructs blood flow to the brain or a blood vessel ruptures, causing vital brain cells to die in the affected region. The effects of a stroke can vary depending on the location and extent of damage, and it can be challenging to cope with the resulting deficits.

Strokes often result from an unhealthy lifestyle, including the formation of blood clots or weak arteries and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, 1-in-4 stroke survivors will have another stroke. To avoid having another stroke, lifestyle changes are a must.

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How rcovering from a stroke works

How Recovering From a Stroke Works. 

Recovering from a stroke requires an active effort. Unlike healing a bone, sitting around will not lead to recovery. Some spontaneous recovery may occur in the first few months as brain swelling subsides, but consistent effort is necessary for full recovery.

Stroke recovery is possible through neuroplasticity, which involves reorganizing and restructuring the brain's neuropathways. The brain can create new cells and pathways to restore function after damage. However, making neuroplastic changes can be difficult. Here are some tips for stroke survivors to incorporate into their daily activities and exercise routines.

  • 3+ hours a day. Research shows that the brain can reorganize quicker with increased stimulation. Aim for a minimum of 3 hours of activity daily, with no diminishing returns up to 6 hours.

  • Mass Practice. Practice the movement or skills you want to regain extensively, whether it's basic reaching and grasping or relearning to write. Consistent, repetitive practice is essential for mastering any skill.

  • Just the right challenge. Your activities should be challenging yet achievable, as easy tasks do not stimulate the brain enough to create neuroplastic changes. On the other hand, overly difficult exercises or activities may lead to giving up and quitting.

  • Make it a daily practice. Recovering from a stroke can be a slow process, but taking days off can lead to missed opportunities and regression in your progress. Daily practice of a skill or movement can help it become ingrained in your brain.

  • Lifestyle change. This will not only reduce your risk of another stroke, but it is also crucial for your recovery. Lack of sleep, poor nutrition, drug or alcohol use, physical inactivity, and stress all cause inflammation in the brain, which slows brain cell growth and neuroplastic changes. Neglecting your fundamental health is like swimming with bricks in your pockets; it will impede your recovery.

Navigating the healthcar system

Navigating the Healthcare System.

The healthcare system is your guide through getting this condition. This is important if you rely upon the healthcare system for your recovery. In my experience, there is a lot of error for stroke survivors. Whether it is not getting the needed equipment, missed medications, or poor therapy interventions. You need to understand the healthcare system and your condition because no one will advocate for you as well as yourself. ​

  1. Understanding Insurance: Familiarize yourself with the specifics of your insurance policy, including premiums, deductibles, co-pays, covered services and treatments, and coverage limits. Anticipate potential financial responsibilities, as some treatments, medications, or specialist visits may require prior approval.

  2. Hospital Discharge Planning: Make sure to fully understand the recommended care plan before leaving the hospital, including treatments, medications, therapies, and lifestyle changes.

  3. Rehabilitation: You will be assigned a case manager while at the hospital. Speak with them about discharge planning. Where will you go? The most common possibilities are acute rehab (3-4.5 hours of therapy a day), subacute rehab (1-2 hours of therapy a day), or home with home health services.

  4. Medications: Understand the potential side effects of prescribed medications and when to seek medical attention. Be aware of how drugs might interact, including over-the-counter medications or supplements. Ensure a consistent routine for taking medications to maximize effectiveness and prevent complications. Take notes of possible side effects and ask questions if you don't know or understand!

  5. Medical Devices: The hospital or rehab facility should provide necessary equipment and educate patients on safe usage before discharge. Additional equipment or home adaptations can increase safety and independence. Insurance may not cover all bathroom safety options. 

  6. Follow-up Appointments: Consistent follow-up appointments help monitor recovery. Keep a calendar or digital reminders to avoid missing visits. Prepare a list of questions or concerns to discuss with healthcare providers.

  7. Medical Records: It is important to obtain and understand your medical records as they contain personal health information. You can request a copy from any hospital or agency; they are vital when seeing new doctors or specialists or seeking a second opinion.

Recovey and Rehab

Recovery and Rehabilitation.

Your recovery will likely involve a combination of therapies, home modifications, adaptive equipment, and lifestyle changes.

  1. Therapy: During your stroke recovery, you will likely see multiple therapists. If you can, seek out therapists who are certified in neurological rehabilitation. Understand what your therapist's goals for you are and make sure they are in line with your own personal goals. Make sure they give you a personalized home exercise program, and do it daily! Engage in prescribed exercises for your deficits. Ask the therapist to clarify if you don't understand what or why you are doing something. You have a right to determine what you work on in therapy. 

    • Occupational Therapy: Restore independence with self-care and home management skills with the help of occupational therapists (OTs). They use tools and exercises to improve strength, balance, coordination, sensation, and mobility. OTs can also address memory and problem-solving challenges for better daily function.

    • Speech and Language Therapy: Therapists that can help with speech and language comprehension challenges after a stroke. They can also provide exercises to improve difficulty swallowing (dysphagia) and activities to boost memory, attention, and other cognitive skills.

    • Physical Therapy: Therapists can help stroke patients improve mobility, transfer abilities, and lower extremity function through exercises and strategies.

  2. Home Modifications: Your home may require modifications to ensure safety. Your therapist should perform a home safety evaluation to provide recommendations. Modifications like ramps, non-slip flooring, and widened doorways can accommodate mobility devices and ensure accessibility in bathrooms, bedrooms, and hallways. For more information on home modifications, please refer here.

  3. Adaptive Equipment: Learn about mobility aids and tools to increase independence and safety with self-care or home management tasks. Occupational therapists can guide you on options, including long-handled sponges, reachers, and button hooks. Explore more here.

  4. Lifestyle Change: Lifestyle changes are crucial for stroke survivors, as 80% of strokes can be prevented with lifestyle modification. It is essential to note that after a stroke, the risk of having another stroke increases, with a quarter of stroke survivors experiencing another stroke. Multiple strokes decrease the chances of recovery. Consult your doctor or therapist for personalized assistance, and visit our healthy living blog for education and recommendations on healthy lifestyle changes.

  5. Daily Routine: Create a daily routine with your occupational therapist to stay physically active, which may include walking, participation in self-care activities, or performing your home exercise program. This will help you achieve the recommended 3 hours of daily activity, promoting better circulation and heart health.

Coping Strategies

Emotional and Psychological Well-Being.

Having a stroke is a life-changing event. You may have gone from independent to dependent or lost the ability to do some of your favorite things. That's going to take a toll on you; it will take a toll on anyone. The clinical depression rate for stroke survivors is high. 1 in 3 survivors will have diagnosable depression, with many others will still have depressed feelings. 

You need to be aware of this and have strategies to combat this as you focus your time and energy on your recovery. Here are some suggestions. 

  1. Coping Strategies: Recognize and accept the range of emotions you might experience, from anger and frustration to sadness or denial. Here are some ways to cope:

    • Stress Management: Learn techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or progressive muscle relaxation to handle stress.

    • Journaling: Documenting feelings, progress, and challenges can offer clarity and be a reflection tool.

    • Adaptive Activities: Engage in new hobbies or adapt previous ones to fit current capabilities, which can provide a sense of accomplishment.

    • Grounding Techniques: Methods like the "5-4-3-2-1" sensory awareness technique can help ground you during overwhelming moments.

    • Guided Meditation: Some apps and online resources provide guided sessions tailored to different needs, including relaxation and sleep.

    • Celebrating Milestones: Recognize and celebrate even the minor progress points in recovery.

    • Routine Development: A daily routine can provide a sense of normalcy and purpose.

  2. Support Groups: Connect with others who have experienced strokes, as they can offer understanding, shared experiences, and practical tips.

    • Local and Online Options: Depending on personal comfort and mobility, consider attending local group meetings or engaging in online forums or virtual discussions.

  3. Mental Health: Recognize that it's okay to seek help from psychologists, counselors, or therapists familiar with post-stroke emotional challenges.

    • Depression and Anxiety: Understand that these are common after a stroke. Early recognition and intervention can significantly impact recovery.

    • Medications: Discuss potential medications with a psychiatrist or primary care provider if emotional or psychological challenges persist.

  4. Family and Caregiver Support: Regularly share feelings, concerns, and needs with family members or caregivers.

    • Respite Care: Recognize the importance of breaks for caregivers. Regularly scheduled respite can prevent caregiver burnout.

This is just a brief introduction to some of the more important things a stroke survivor will need to understand and do to make a fuller recovery. Check in weekly as I constantly update this website with more educational information, exercises, equipment, and other tools to aid in a stroke survivor's recovery. If you don't see what you are looking for, shoot me an email, and I will see what I can do to help you!

Need A Little More Help?

Check Out Our Coaching Therapy for a Custom Home Exercise Program Fit For You!

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