You deserve an amazing life after a stroke, and this 8-part series will help you make it happen.
Here’s what we’ll be digging into:
- Healing the Brain and the Pain
- Revealing the Truth
- Understanding What to Expect
- Establishing Your Game Plan
- Navigating New Emotions
- Optimizing Your Mindset
- Developing Essential Habits
- Having Fun Again
There’s a lot of good stuff in here, so bookmark this page, refer to the links when you need more information, and let’s get to it!
Change Your Brain, Change Your Recovery
We talk about neuroplasticity all the time in this stroke recovery blog, but it’s always worth repeating for those who haven’t heard about it yet.
Neuroplasticity is how your brain heals itself after injury by rewiring itself and restoring the communication between your brain and your muscles. This rewiring process will restore proper bodily function and movement.
If there’s one thing you need to know about neuroplasticity, it’s that it’s only made possible by repetitive practice (i.e. repeating something over and over).
Neuroplasticity and repetitive practice work like this: Whatever we focus on day in and day out, that’s what we become good at.
You want to regain movement after stroke? Do your rehab exercises every day and repeat them over and over. Soon your brain will start rewiring itself to regain the ability to perform whatever you’re focusing on.
If you’re focusing on fine motor skills every day, you’ll become better at using your fine motor skills. If you focus on learning how to skate every day, you’ll become better at skating. If you focus on mathematics every day (because deep down we’re all a little nerdy, right?), then you’ll become better at math.
Your brain wants to give you what you want.
You just have to put in the good hard work.
Easing Post Stroke Pain the Right Way
Life after stroke can be painful – emotionally and physically. Sometimes post stroke pain sets in immediately, and sometimes it takes a few months before it shows up.
There are ways to ease post stroke pain temporarily, but ultimately you’ll want to focus on treating your spasticity because it’s usually the root cause of post stroke pain (unless you’re suffering from Central Post-Stroke Pain).
Spasticity is the most common post stroke side effect, and it involves stiff, painful muscle cramps.
You can treat the pain with drugs, but that kind of treatment is temporary and doesn’t treat the real problem.
The only way to get rid of spasticity permanently is to regain control of the spastic muscles; and you can only do that through rehab exercises and the power of neuroplasticity.
Right now your brain is having a hard time communicating with your muscles, and so your muscles are cramping up to protect themselves. You need to retrain your brain to control your muscles and then they’ll relax.
Repetitive practice and a dedicated rehab regimen are the only way to do that.
When to Recover and When to Sleep (They’re the Same Thing)
There’s one repetitive practice that’s easy to love: sleep!
We need tons of sleep during stroke recovery because rest allows your brain to heal and properly absorb all the new information from your hard day’s work.
Sleep allows those new connections in your brain to get stronger, and it helps you retain the new movement your brain learned from your rehab exercises.
Sleep is very important, yet it’s so easy to put off when you have too much on your plate.
Our advice: Identify your essentials and focus on those. Then, rest.
Maintaining a busy lifestyle while recovering from stroke is counterintuitive. You’ll be overstimulated by everything that’s going on – because your brain is busy healing – and you won’t have time to properly allow yourself to heal. (This is why we’re advocates of slow living.)
So show the lovely pink organ in your head some love and get some good, solid sleep.
Did you know about neuroplasticity and repetitive practice before?
How do you deal with post stroke pain?
Share your experience in the comments section below and let’s get this community talking!