Everyone wants a full recovery from stroke, but not many people know what it takes to get there.
To help with your understanding, this article will explain 5 steps that will help you on the road to a full recovery.
Step 1) Understand the Difference Between Compensation and Recovery
The biggest obstacle that you will face on the road to recovery is knowing when to outgrow your compensation techniques – and having the patience, motivation, and work ethic to do it.
Compensation involves performing an old movement in a new manner.
Some examples are washing the dishes with one hand or using an AFO to brace your foot. Although the dishes are getting done and your foot isn’t dropping, you’re performing these movements in different manners. This is compensation.
Recovery, on the other hand, involves restoring the ability to perform a movement the same way as before injury.
To continue our previous example, recovery involves washing the dishes with both hands and walking without a foot brace.
The difference between compensation and recovery is the difference between a partial and full recovery.
Step 2) Participate in Formal or Informal Rehabilitation Every Single Day
A full recovery happens through rehabilitation (which means restoring your health and ability after injury).
Formal rehabilitation involves carefully designed programs, like physical therapy and home exercise programs that help activate neuroplasticity and restore your abilities.
Informal rehabilitation involves moving through your daily life while trying your best to perform movements the same way as before.
Both are difficult and require hard work; and you’ll see the best results when you practice both.
Let’s look at some examples.
Our home therapy tool FitMi is a great example of formal rehabilitation.
FitMi is an interactive device that patients use to accomplish a high number of reps of 40 different exercises for the full body.
Although it’s separate from your activities of daily living, your progress carries over into your daily life.
Informal rehabilitation can happen all throughout your day with tasks you already do.
For example, if you’re trying to regain hand movement, then your informal rehabilitation can include spending an hour washing dishes with both hands instead of one.
Do Your Best to Practice Both Every Single Day
You need both formal and informal rehabilitation to get the best results and progress towards a full recovery.
Formal rehabilitation helps jump start neuroplasticity in your brain because it requires a high number of specific reps. This helps your brain heal faster.
Informal rehabilitation help you apply those gains to your everyday life, which allows you to capitalize on all your hard work.
Step 3: Take the Longer Way for a Full Recovery
Practicing informal rehabilitation often requires A LOT of patience because you’re doing things the longer, harder way.
There will be many moments where you’ll be tempted to take shortcuts (i.e. use compensation techniques) instead of benefitting from informal rehabilitation – and it’s up to you to decide how often you want to practice.
Don’t burn yourself out by trying to turn every single thing you do into therapy. But try to deliberately turn some of your daily activities into informal rehab.
For example, don’t try to fold the laundry, put away the dishes, and get dressed with both hands if you’ve been doing it all with one hand lately. Instead, start by turning one of those activities into informal rehab, and try more when you build the patience for it.
The more patience you build, the closer you will get to a full recovery.
Step 4: Don’t Let Your Pain Dictate Your Success
During the early stages of recovery, many patients use their pain as their motivation. Meaning, their situation is currently painful, and they are motivated to alleviate that pain.
Although reducing your pain is a good thing, this becomes problematic because your motivation decreases as well.
For example, if you’re unemployed, you might be greatly motivated to regain enough movement to get back to work. But once you finally land a job, the pain no longer exists. Suddenly, you’re out of motivation to continue chasing that full recovery.
You cannot let your pain dictate your recovery because, luckily, it’s not a lasting source of motivation.
Step 5: Continue to Educate Yourself
The more you know about stroke recovery, the more tools you will have to help you achieve the full recovery you desire.
Our blog is a great place to start, and our book is an even better tool to use.
Healing & Happiness After Stroke helps you find lasting motivation during stroke recovery. It also discusses how to manage your emotions and develop your self-esteem.
If you’re trying to give yourself an extra push during this demanding time, then our book is a great fit for you.