Learning how to recover from stroke can be overwhelming sometimes, but you came to the right place.
You’re about to learn 15 of the best practices during the stroke recovery process.
Whether you’re a caregiver trying to learn how to help stroke patients recover, or if you’re a survivor trying to take charge of your recovery, we hope this list is useful.
Let’s jump right in!
1. Become an Expert on All Possible Stroke Side Effects
The biggest mistake: Leaving room for surprise with possible stroke side effects
Stroke recovery varies from patient to patient depending on the size and location of stroke.
Every stroke is different, and every recovery will be different. Therefore, staying on top of all possible stroke side effects is a must.
For example, a left side stroke that damages the language center of the brain can result in aphasia, a language disorder. On the other hand, a right side stroke that damages the emotion center of the brain can result in emotional lability, an emotional disorder.
Stay on top of the potential side effects so that you can anticipate any obstacles during stroke recovery.
2. Get Rid of Spasticity the Most Effective, Natural Way
The biggest mistake: Using Botox to relieve spasticity without a proper rehabilitation exercise regimen
Spasticity is muscle stiffness that occurs when stroke damages part of the brain that controls your muscles.
A common treatment for spasticity is Botox… While Botox is effective, it’s only a temporary treatment, and you’ll need to keep going back for more. Botox doesn’t help rewire the brain and address the root problem.
The best spasticity treatment – which is also an all-natural treatment – is by rewiring your brain with repetitive stroke exercises. By performing therapeutic movements over and over, you rewire the brain and your muscles will relax again.
3. Focus on (Arguably) the Single Most Important Ingredient of Stroke Recovery: Repetition
The biggest mistake: Forgetting that stroke rehabilitation exercise is about retraining the brain
In order to recover from stroke, your brain needs to rewire itself through neuroplasticity, the process of forming and strengthening neural pathways in the brain.
Your brain needs a high number of repetitions in order to successfully rewire itself and heal. Without a high number of repetitions and a consistent rehab routine, your brain won’t have what it needs to recover lost movement.
So don’t exercise in vain – make sure that you’re utilizing a high number of repetitions so that your efforts produce results.
Bonus: Download our free Stroke Rehab Exercises ebook. (Link will open a pop-up that will not interrupt your reading.)
4. Know When More Exercise Is Better… And When It’s Not
The biggest mistake: Exercising too much
Now, don’t get us wrong — exercise is important during stroke recovery — but don’t over do it! In fact, one of the best ways to overcome stroke is by getting lots of sleep!
While repetition is important, too much exercise can start to hinder your progress. You need a good amount of rest and sleep after stroke in order to successfully recover.
During sleep, your brain stores information related to motor tasks that you performed that day. Think of it as your brain’s opportunity to file important documents about motor recovery that it can access later. You won’t want to skip out on that.
5. Endlessly Experiment with Stroke Therapy Until You Find the ONE
The biggest mistake: Settling for a mediocre stroke recovery regimen
At the beginning of this article, we mentioned that rehab exercises should take center stage during your stroke recovery.
These are powerful programs that are designed to help you activate neuroplasticity and see the results you desire.
No matter what you choose, keep searching and trying different rehabilitation options until you find the one that provides the most benefit to you.
6. Understand the Natural Ebb and Flow of Stroke Recovery
The biggest mistake: Panicking when your results start to backslide
If you feel like stroke recovery gets worse during certain times, don’t panic! It’s just the normal ebb and flow of recovery.
Some backsliding, however, could be a sign of regression — but that’s very rare. Most often, small backslides in progress are simply part of the stroke recovery process.
It’s very normal to take two steps forward and one step back – or even five steps back. While it can be frustrating, trust that when you zoom out and look at the big picture, there’s always an upward pattern of growth.
7. Keep Your Stroke Prevention Game Strong
The biggest mistake: Focusing so much on stroke recovery that you forget about prevention
Stroke prevention is absolutely essential for stroke survivors since one stroke increases your risk of a second. To manage your risk of recurrent stroke, a good place to start is our stroke prevention guidelines where we lay the groundwork for how to prevent a stroke.
We also know that many stroke survivors live with high anxiety from worrying about having another stroke. If you find yourself constantly stressed out about the risk of recurrent stroke, see these tips on reducing anxiety.
8. Forget What They Said – A Full Recovery from Stroke IS Possible
The biggest mistake: Not believing that a full recovery from stroke is possible
A full recovery is something that we believe in – and it’s something that you need to believe in too. We’ve written about it extensively, but the crux of what you need to know is that compensation techniques can become an option. While they might be necessary in the beginning stages – it’s possible to reach a point where you can push past them.
For the full story, refer to our guide on how to fully recover from stroke.
9. Don’t Stop at the Plateau! Stroke Recovery Only Stops When You Stop
The biggest mistake: Giving up on stroke recovery when results slow down
Unfortunately, the plateau is real — but! It doesn’t mean what you might think it means. While it’s true that recovery typically slows down after about 3-6 months after stroke, it does not mean that progress will stop. Recovery will only stop when YOU stop. If you experience a plateau, it’s a sign to double up on your efforts, not back down.
10. Bust Through Plateaus with Variety and Challenge – They’re the Spice of Rehabilitation
The biggest mistake: Keeping your stroke recovery regimen the same
One reason a plateau occurs is because your brain gets used to the stimulation you’re giving it. A great way to bust through a plateau is to switch up your regimen so that your brain has a new kind of stimulation.
You can also overcome a plateau by increasing the challenge of your regimen. Challenge is an important ingredient in stroke recovery, and you need to have the perfect amount (not too much, not too little).
It’s likely that a plateau can happen from too little challenge. By increasing the challenge in your regimen, you can bounce back from a plateau.
11. Find Friends to Lean On
The biggest mistake: Trying to recover from stroke alone
As you progress through your stroke recovery, you’re likely to have a team of therapists and doctors supporting you. Once you’re on your own, though, it’s important not to stay alone! Make time in your schedule to socialize and relax with friends and family. Having others around can help ease any depression and anxiety that might creep up on you during your recovery.
Our online stroke support group is a great place to find support from other stroke survivors.
12. Hold Hope for Recovery from Post-Stroke Paralysis
The biggest mistake: Believing that recovery isn’t possible – there’s always hope
There’s always hope for overcoming post-stroke paralysis.
Even when doctors say that there’s no hope for recovery, they’re just legally obligated to say that. You should always believe in the best possible outcome because there are so many stories of stroke survivors recovering far more than doctors expected.
Furthermore, believing that recovery is possible will motivate you to take the action necessary to get there. See this guide on how to recover from post-stroke paralysis even when you think there’s no hope.
13. Give Alternative Stroke Treatments a Try
The biggest mistake: Dismissing alternative stroke treatments that could have a huge impact
Some stroke survivors respond very well to acupuncture treatments. Others don’t see much benefit. This is because every stroke is different, and everyone will benefit from different therapies. If you have reached a plateau in your recovery, then alternative treatments like acupuncture could give your brain the stimulation it needs to recover. You’ll never know until you try!
14. Focus on Speed Instead of Time
The biggest mistake: Asking “how long will stroke recovery take?” instead of “what can I do to speed up recovery?”
If you’re curious about how long stroke recovery might take, know that it’s very tough to estimate recovery time. Generally speaking, recovery from mild stroke could take around 6 months and recovery from massive stroke could take years or even decades.
It can be frustrating to focus on how much longer recovery might take, so shift your focus to something empowering: things you can do to speed recovery along. (Hint: Repetition, like we mentioned earlier, is the key to a fast recovery.)
15. Have Hope for Overcoming Every Single Stroke Side Effect
The biggest mistake: Feeling stuck because someone said it’s impossible
If you have any strange stroke side effects – like tingling in your arm after stroke or toes that curl under or post-stroke dementia – don’t feel like it’s a lost cause. There’s a solution for almost every stroke side effect, you just have to go looking for it!
(Luckily, we’ve already listed the treatments for common stroke side effects.)
After talking to thousands of stroke survivors over the years, one thing is clear: determined individuals go much farther during stroke recovery because they refuse to give up.
So if someone says that you’ll never be able to walk again, challenge them! Try to see if you can do it anyway, and we bet you will! Because when you put in the work, the results will follow.
Follow all 15 of these steps, and you will be on the fast track to recovery.