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Massive Stroke Recovery: Symptoms, Treatments, & Timeline

massive stroke recovery

Massive stroke is a severe medical condition. It results in serious side effects that requires intense rehabilitation.

To help you recover from massive stroke, we’ll discuss the best stroke treatment options below.

We’ll also explain how long massive stroke recovery tends to take.

Let’s dive in.

Massive Stroke Symptoms

First of all, what causes a stroke?

Stroke occurs when the supply of blood in the brain is compromised by either a clogged artery or burst artery.

A clogged artery is known as an ischemic stroke and a burst artery is a hemorrhagic stroke.

what causes a massive stroke

Stroke is a medical emergency – especially when it’s a massive stroke!

Massive stroke means there is chronic obstruction in the brain and time lost is brain lost. Here’s how treatment is administered:

Treatment for Massive Stroke

massive stroke treatment

Doctors move swiftly to treat massive stroke because delayed treatment results in worsening side effects.

Typically, these are the methods used to treat massive stroke:

  • Blood-thinning drugs like tPA are used to treat massive ischemic stroke (aspirin may not be powerful to stop a massive stroke)
  • Brain surgery like hemicraniotomy is used to treat massive hemorrhagic stroke

Surgery is highly invasive, and stroke patients who require surgery often sustain severe side effects from the stroke.

Fortunately, there are plenty of rehabilitation options to help patients regain independence during recovery.

Massive Stroke Side Effects

massive stroke side effects

Massive stroke patients often sustain these major side effects:

  1. Paralysis in half the body and/or face
  2. Vision problems
  3. Sensory loss (or numbness/tingling)
  4. Loss of speech
  5. Difficulty holding attention

To assess your stroke side effects, your medical team likely used the NIH Stroke Scale to determine your prognosis.

Patients who score 21-42 on the NIH Stroke scale are considered to have suffered a massive stroke.

Although recovery will require intense treatment, most side effects can be restored with rehabilitation.

Methods for Massive Stroke Rehabilitation

Stroke rehabilitation involves restoring the patient’s abilities through therapy.

Here are the best ways to rehabilitate the side effects of massive stroke:

1. Treat Paralysis with Passive Exercise

neuroplasticity and massive stroke recovery

If a massive stroke has left you with paralysis on one or both sides of your body, then you can regain movement through stroke rehabilitation exercises.

The purpose of rehab exercise is to activate neuroplasticity, which is how your brain rewires and heals after stroke.

High repetition during rehab exercise is critical for recovery because it activates neuroplasticity.

However, this can be challenging with paralysis.

massive stroke treatment

Patients with post-stroke paralysis should start with passive rehab exercises.

Passive exercise requires a second person to assist your body through each exercise. Although you aren’t “doing it yourself,” this still helps activate neuroplasticity.

In time, you can work your way up to independence exercise.

2. Treat Vision Problems with Eye Exercises

vision problems after massive stroke

Your vision is controlled by both muscle and brain.

First, there are 6 muscles that control your eye, and then the visual information that goes through your eyes is interpreted by your visual cortex.

Sometimes stroke affects your eye muscles, and the best treatment for that is eye exercises. This will help retrain your brain how to control your eyes and restore your vision.

Other times stroke affects your visual cortex, and that can be treated too.

See this guide to treating vision problems to learn more.

3. Treat Numbness or Tingling with Sensory Reeducation

sensory issues after massive stroke

If you have trouble feeling sensation on your affected side of the body (like trouble feeling hot or cold, or trouble feeling everything), then you may have sensory problems.

And like all other stroke side effects, this can be treated through exercise! Specifically, sensory reeducation exercise.

Sensory reeducation exercises help retrain your brain how to interpret your senses. And like always, performing these exercises repetitively and consistently will help you improve your senses faster.

Are you starting to feel empowered knowing that all stroke side effects can be cured through good, consistent practice?

4. Treat Impaired Language with Speech Therapy

massive stroke treatment for speech

When stroke affects your ability to speak, this condition is known as aphasia.

Aphasia can be treated through therapy with a speech-language pathologist.

You can also look into singing therapy.

Singing therapy is effective because although a patient with aphasia cannot say their words, they can most likely sing them.

That’s because language is controlled by your brain’s left hemisphere, but music and singing is controlled by your right hemisphere.

If your stroke only affected one side of your brain, then singing therapy is a good option to look into.

5. Treat Hemineglect with Attention Training

treatment for one sided neglect after massive stroke

The mental process of attention can be affected by stroke.

When a stroke patients are not able to pay attention to their affected side, this condition is known as hemineglect.

Like all stroke side effects, this can be treated through practice.

To cure one-sided neglect, make it a frequent exercise to turn to your affected side and pay attention to what’s there.

No need to overcomplicate things. Just turn to your affected side and absorb everything that’s going on in the environment over there.

This will help train your brain to pay attention to your affected side, and you’ll start to get better and better at paying attention.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Massive Stroke?

massive stroke recovery time

Earlier we mentioned that a stroke prognosis score between 25-40 is considered a massive stroke.

The length of your stroke recovery timeline will be slightly contingent upon your score.

Meaning, someone who scored a 25 on the NIH Stroke Scale may recover much faster than someone who scored a 40.

Although there are large fluctuations in recovery time between massive stroke patients, here are some patterns we’ve noticed:

  • Doctors often underestimate how much you can recover after massive stroke
  • If you are persistent, you can start walking (with the help of a walker or cane) within 6 months
  • Recovery occurs faster in patients with rigorous rehabilitation programs
  • Most massive stroke patients regain significant function after 2 years
  • Many patients can resume work by the second year – or sooner with a strong rehabilitation regimen

We hope this is helpful and gives you an idea of how long it will take to recover from massive stroke.

Understanding Massive Stroke Recovery

When someone scores between 25-40 on the NIH Stroke Scale, it’s considered a massive stroke.

Side effects are often severe and may include paralysis, vision problems, sensory issues, speech problems, and attention difficulties.

Luckily, most stroke side effects can be recovered with a stroke rehabilitation program.

The harder you pursue recovery, the faster you will regain independence. We wish you the best of luck on the road to recovery!

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More Ways to Recover with Flint Rehab:

Step 1: Download Free Rehab Exercises

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Step 2: Discover Award-Winning Neurorehab Tools

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