Understanding Timelines and Phases during Stroke Recovery (Part 3)

Understanding Timelines and Phases during Stroke Recovery (Part 3)

This is part 3 of our Ultimate Guide to Life after a Stroke series.

In this post, we’ll be answering the infamous stroke recovery question: “How long will my recovery take?”

If you’ve asked your neurologist this question before, you probably heard something like, “Every stroke is different so every recovery is different.” While every stroke recovery is indeed unique, there are still some general patterns that you should be aware of.

What to Expect from Your Stroke Recovery Timeline

One month post stroke your motor function will begin to improve as you continue to participate in different therapies. At this point, you’ll experience rapid recovery.

Three months post stroke you’ll continue to make strides in your recovery, but things will start to slow. At this point, you’ll be tempted to say you’ve plateaued and suspend your efforts… Do not do this.

As we’ve discussed before, the plateau is absolutely not real. As long as you’re putting in effort towards your recovery, you will continue to see improvement. You just have to make peace with slow progress during some phases, and enjoy rapid improvement during others.

One year post stroke things start to vary greatly from person to person. But one variable remains true for everyone: a higher recovery is possible. A full recovery can be achieved if you continue to persevere and utilize all the tactics and resources available to you.

Twenty years post stroke things are still looking up. If for some reason you gave into the plateau or you gave up on the idea of a full recovery, you can still pick things back up. Just because you haven’t done anything for a few years – or maybe even a few decades – doesn’t mean you can’t still get better.

No matter how much time has elapsed, you can always get better.

As long as you put in the effort, your brain will respond and your body will continue to improve.

Understanding Your Stroke Recovery Stages

As a stroke survivor, you should be aware of the Brunnstrom stages of stroke recovery. This model for stroke recovery lays the general outline for your improvement during stroke recovery.

Stage 1: Flaccidity. At this stage, there is no movement in the affected muscles. Some survivors skip this stage.

Stage 2: Spasticity is present. Then, some passive movement and spasticity occur. While this stage can be frustrating and painful, it’s a sure sign of hope. Understanding how to alleviate spasticity is a must.

Stage 3: Spasticity increases. Spasticity comes to a peak and difficult, voluntary movement becomes possible. With a dedicated rehabilitation regimen, you’ll be on your way to conquering spasticity and regaining mobility.

Stage 4: Spasticity decreases. Muscle control continues to increase and movement becomes easier. At this stage, we celebrate 🙂

Stage 5: Spasticity wanes. Complex voluntary movement starts to emerge, and then we really celebrate.

Stage 6: Coordination reappears. Spasticity is completely gone and coordination rapidly improves as a consequence. Movement is almost fully restored and a full recovery is within sight.

Stage 7: Normal function returns. At this stage, full function, strength, and coordination are restored and you have achieved a full recovery.

This is when you do your happy dance. (Your really, really happy dance.)

What stage are you in?

What challenges have you faced – and overcome – during your recovery so far?

Cruise on down to the comment section and share your personal experience with our community.

Up next is Part 4: Establishing Your Stroke Recovery Game Plan

Earlier posts in this Life after Stroke series:

  1. Healing the Brain and the Pain
  2. Revealing the Truth