Since every stroke is different, every patient will have a different stroke recovery process.
To help you recover from stroke efficiently, we’ll show you how to avoid 15 common mistakes.
Before we dig in, you need to know about one of the most important concepts for recovery…
Healing the Brain during Stroke Recovery
When the brain is deprived of oxygen-rich blood during stroke, it leads to brain damage.
While the damage cannot be reversed, it’s possible to train other parts of the brain to take over the tasks! This is called neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity allows healthy parts of the brain to “pick up the slack” and help you regain lost functions, like movement and speech.
Each part of the stroke recovery process will focus on neuroplasticity because it’s key to recovery.
Next, we will discuss 15 steps to avoid the worst mistakes during stroke recovery.
Optimizing Your Stroke Recovery Process
Here are our top 15 tips for your stroke recovery process:
1. Massed Practice Activates Neuroplasticity
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.
Your brain needs a high number of repetitions (“massed practice”) in order to successfully rewire itself and heal.
The more repetitions you perform during your exercises for stroke patients, the more your mobility will improve.
But this doesn’t just apply to exercise. You can regain most abilities after stroke (like language and memory) by practicing those skills too.
2. The Size and Location of Your Stroke Matters
The biggest mistake: Forgetting to educate yourself on all possible stroke side effects that may surface later
For example, left side stroke survivors often struggle with speech since the left hemisphere of the brain controls language.
Side effects vary greatly among stroke patients, so it’s important to do your research on potential stroke side effects – especially ones that correlate with the location of your stroke.
3. Speed Matters More than Time during Stroke Recovery
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 takes, 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.
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 recover from stroke quickly.
(Hint: Repetition, like we mentioned earlier, is the key to a fast recovery.)
Treatments for the Stroke Recovery Process
Learning how to recover from stroke is all about finding the best treatments for stroke side effects.
4. The Best Treatment for Spasticity Is All-Natural
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, which is effective yet temporary. Botox doesn’t help rewire the brain and address the root problem.
The best spasticity treatment – which is also an all-natural treatment – is rewiring your brain with repetitive stroke exercises.
Spasticity often goes away as your mobility improves through massed practice.
5. Physical Therapy Should Be Done in Moderation During Stroke Recovery
The biggest mistake: Exercising too much
Now, don’t get us wrong — exercise is important during stroke recovery — but don’t over do it!
If you push too hard, you can burn out or even cause your progress to backslide, and you don’t want that!
Rest and sleep are equally important for a healing brain during stroke recovery.
6. Paralysis Can Often Be Reversed
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 stroke recovery stories that surpass doctors’ expectations.
Furthermore, believing that recovery is possible will motivate you to take the action necessary to get there.
7. Acupuncture Can Help Patients Recovering from Stroke
The biggest mistake: Dismissing alternative stroke treatments that could have a huge impact
Acupuncture could potentially help improve mobility and sensory issues, like numbness or tingling after stroke.
However, the studies are conflicting. This is likely because every stroke is different and every patient responds differently to therapy.
Some patients swear by acupuncture and others see zero benefit. If it interests you, look into it with your doctor’s approval.
(Alternative treatments like these can be particularly useful to overcome plateaus.)
8. Different Stroke Therapies Should Be Tried Until You Find the One
The biggest mistake: Settling for a mediocre stroke recovery regimen
If you aren’t seeing results with one stroke therapy regimen, move on to the next!
Every stroke patient responds differently to different treatments.
No matter what you choose, keep searching and trying different rehabilitation options until you find the one that provides the most benefit to you.
9. Stroke Prevention Is Also Important
The biggest mistake: Forgetting that healthy food can be just as powerful as medicine
Stroke survivors are at higher risk of stroke, so prevention is important.
Often, a healthy diet after stroke is one of the best ways to manage stroke risk factors like high cholesterol and central obesity.
Also, if your doctor has prescribed you any medication like aspirin to prevent stroke, be sure to take it. It could save your life!
10. Strange Stroke Side Effects Can Be Remedied
The biggest mistake: Feeling stuck because someone said it’s impossible
There’s a solution for almost every stroke side effect, you just have to go looking for it!
Luckily, we’ve already put all the treatments for common stroke side effects in one place.
Understanding the Stroke Recovery Process
As you recover after stroke, you may get confused about the process. These last few tips help bring clarity to the stroke recovery process:
11. There’s a Natural Ebb and Flow to 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.
12. A Full Recovery from Stroke Is Often Possible
The biggest mistake: Not believing that a full recovery from stroke is possible
Statistically speaking, about 10% of stroke patients achieve a full recovery.
However, we believe that number can be much higher if more stroke patients are told that they can achieve a full recovery!
A great way to maximize your potential for a full recovery is to remain aware of your compensation techniques, which are like shortcuts that can become crutches when over-relied upon.
For the full story on how to achieve a full recovery, keep reading.
13. The 3-Month Plateau Is Real but Don’t Let It Stop You!
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.
14. Variety and Challenge Help Reverse Plateaus
The biggest mistake: Keeping your stroke recovery regimen the same
A great way to bust through a plateau is to switch up your regimen so that your brain has a new kind of stimulation.
Also, make sure that your stroke rehabilitation program keeps you challenged so that your brain has the stimulation it needs to keep healing.
15. A Support Network of Friends and Family Is Important
The biggest mistake: Trying to recover from stroke alone
Lastly, try not to go through stroke recovery alone. Lean into friends and family, or join stroke support groups.
Stroke recovery is a long, hard journey — but you can overcome it with the right advice and support.
And there you have it! Follow these 15 steps and you will be on the fast track to recovery from stroke.