More than six million Americans are stroke survivors. While stroke might feel lonely and traumatic, you’re not alone. Stroke is not the end, it’s simply a new beginning. There is life after stroke, and the American Stroke Association can help you find your path forward.
Your first step after a stroke is to find the best stroke rehabilitation for you. Working with your healthcare provider, you can find the program best suited to your needs. Many inpatient rehab facilities offer healthcare professionals in a variety of disciplines, including physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists. While it might not always be easy, rehab can help stroke survivors regain independence.
When you return home after a stroke, it may seem scary at first because so many things have changed. Just like the individuals who experience them, no two strokes are the same. Some stroke survivors regain full independence with little or no lingering effects, while other may need more help with daily activities and will rely on a caregiver to help. Working with your doctors and rehab coordinators, you can gage the physical challenges, emotional and behavioral challenges, and communication challenges you may face. From there, you can determine how to improve and adapt your surroundings to make the most of your recovery.
Along with physical support, both survivors and caregivers need emotional support. Often, stroke recovery can be emotionally taxing and physically draining on both the stroke survivor and family caregiver. This may lead to depression and stress, which can lead to poor health outcomes. Studies have shown that high levels of social support can aid with faster functional recovery in stroke survivors and decrease depression in caregivers.
You can connect with others going through a similar journey on the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association’s online Support Network. Give and receive advice, ask questions and share your story with fellow stroke survivors and caregivers.
In addition to physical and emotional support, it’s important to regain a healthy lifestyle post-stroke to decrease the risk of a second stroke. Keep your stroke risks low with regular checkups and treatment for any conditions that increase stroke risk, including high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, diet, physical activity, obesity, high blood cholesterol, carotid artery disease, peripheral artery disease, atrial fibrillation, other heart disease and sickle cell disease. Work with your healthcare provider to learn how to lower your risk for another stroke.
While stroke may dramatically change your life, remember that stroke is not the end. To learn more about how stroke is beatable, visit www.strokeassociation.org.