After discharge from the hospital after stroke, there are many new factors to consider for your health, safety, and recovery.
To help you stay on top of everything, we created this ultimate guide on what to do after discharge from the hospital. It’s quite a long read, and that’s because there’s a lot to consider.
We will start with topics to consider if you’re still in the hospital, and then move on to other topics once you’re home.
1. Ask your team where you should be discharged
Some stroke survivors are able to go straight home after stroke. However, depending upon the severity of your stroke, you may need to spend some time at a facility to improve your stroke deficits until you are ready to go home. These facilities can include:
Long-term acute care facility: Here, you can spend a few weeks or months receiving intensive daily therapy and medical support to help boost movement recovery and the activities of daily living.
Skilled nursing facility: This facility is great if you have slightly less intense medical needs that those who need long-term acute care, but you also need extra assistance before going home.
Home healthcare: Once you are able to go home after stroke, you can consider bringing therapists into your home. This is especially helpful if you cannot drive yet.
Be sure to include your physiatrist in your conversation as you decide what the best location for you after discharge.
2. Know the warning signs to come back to the hospital
If you didn’t ask before you left the hospital, be sure to ask your doctor or therapist what warning signs indicate that you need to return to the hospital. Understanding the warning signs is an extremely important step to ensure your health and safety.
Caregivers and family members: You know about the F.A.S.T. way to identify a stroke, right?
3. Know your stroke risk factors and manage them appropriately
Unfortunately, every stroke survivors is at a higher risk of recurrent stroke. Therefore, stroke risk management is absolutely essential.
Some stroke risk factors are uncontrollable, like heredity or age. Luckily, many stroke risk factors are manageable; meaning, you can take active steps to minimize your risk.
For example, high blood pressure and atherosclerosis – two dangerous stroke risk factors – can both be improved through a healthy diet.
Read this article to learn about other stroke risk factors and how to manage them.
4. Prepare for the physical side-effects (especially these two)
There are many physical post-stroke side effects that make recovery a challenge after stroke.
For starters, learning about one-sided neglect and learned nonuse can help ensure that you maximize your recovery while minimizing negative side effects.
One-sided neglect occurs when damage on one side of the brain causes you to completely ignore the affected side of your body. This includes objects and people near that side of the body, too.
In order to treat and prevent one-sided neglect, have family and caregivers approach you from your affected side. This will help train your brain to attend to your affected side.
Learned nonuse occurs when you completely neglect your affected limbs. And if you ignore them for too long, your brain can completely forget how to use them! To prevent learned nonuse from happening, be sure to move your affected limbs each day – even if it’s just a little!
5. Prepare for verbal side effects
When stroke affects the language center of the brain, it can affect your ability to speak. This condition is known as aphasia, which a speech therapist can help treat.
If speech therapy isn’t working, then you can also try singing therapy. Surprisingly, although a stroke survivor cannot say their words, they can actually sing their words.
Talking is controlled by the language center in the left hemisphere of the brain, and music and creativity is controlled by the right hemisphere. Since stroke typically only affects one side of the brain, stroke survivors with aphasia can typically find a way to communicate through their singing right brain.
6. Work on restoring mobility as soon as possible
In the first few weeks and months after stroke, the brain is in a ‘heightened state of plasticity.’ Meaning, the brain is rapidly trying to heal itself and you will most likely see rapid motor improvement during this window of time.
Try to take advantage of it by diligently pursuing rehab. Procrastination tends to get in the way once you’re in the comfort of your own home, though, which is why we love the convenience and accountability of FitMi (our interactive home therapy device).
7. Prevent possible falls
Until mobility and balance is restored through rehab exercise, it’s important to take safety precautions to prevent falls. Ways to help prevent falls are:
- Installing grab bars and handrails
- Adding non-slip mats to the shower
- Working on core and balance exercises
If you have fallen once after stroke, then you are at risk of repeat falls. It is absolutely essential to take all necessary precautions and inform your caregivers of any falls. They can help ensure your safety and check in on you to make sure that you’re okay.