Life after stroke is full of problem solving. And like any problem that needs solving, there are little things you can do to make it all easier.
Let’s start with the essentials.
Healing During Life After Stroke
A Bit on Neuroplasticity
Neuroplasticity is how the brain heals itself after stroke. Your brain can rewire impaired functions (caused by damage in the area of the brain that controls those functions) to different areas of the brain.
Think of it as mind remapping. In order for neuroplasticity to work, it requires massed practice and consistency.
For example, if your fine motor skills were impaired by your stroke, then your brain can rewire those skills to regain hand movement with the help of a solid hand therapy exercise regimen.
Should You Work on Becoming Functional or Better?
Every goal that you set during your recovery will fall under two categories:
- Things that will get you functional again
- Things that will make you better again
Your therapist will most likely help you become functional again by helping you with the activities of daily living.
But anything beyond that will most likely be in your hands. So first you have to ask yourself, “Do I want to become functional or do I want to get better?”
Asking this question regularly will help motivate you to start pursuing a full recovery from stroke.
The 1% Motivation Method
Now that you know what to do, you need to figure out how you’re going to motivate yourself to follow through.
Enter: The 1% Method.
Taking small, consistent steps everyday will get you much farther than the all-or-nothing (and then burning out) mentality.
Try dedicating just 15 minutes of your day to the one thing you want to achieve most. Small but steady wins the race.
Adapting to Life After Stroke
Moving Normally Again
Regaining movement starts with a solid at-home rehabilitation regimen.
If you’re looking for exercises to do, you can skim through our physical therapy exercises for stroke patients to see if you find any you like.
And like we mentioned earlier, you should try experimenting with as many methods for recovery as possible.
There are tons of options. and we have a lot of resources to help.
Strive for a Full Recovery
When it comes to regaining movement after stroke, the debate over a full recovery is likely to come up.
And we’re probably at odds with what your doctors has to say – and that’s okay.
Medical professionals have to disclose the realistic potential outcomes of your stroke. However, they don’t always put it in the best light, and that can actually hinder your recovery – a lot.
It’s called the nocebo effect.
And it occurs when you hear the negative effects of something and, because you believe them to be true, they become real. Don’t let this happen to you. You have more control over your recovery than you could ever image.
Developing a positive mindset is the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself.
Finding Yourself Again After Stroke
Making Peace with Slow
If your stroke has impaired your movement then it has probably slowed you down, and this can be the most frustrating thing for many stroke survivors.
If you’re forced to slow down and you don’t like it, then making peace can make life a lot easier.
A slow life is actually something that some people advocate.
Getting It Done or Getting Better?
Should you focus on getting things done or getting better?
The answer isn’t always obvious.
Let’s say that you’re unloading the dish rack while only using your ‘good’ hand. This might double the time it takes to complete the task, but it’s certainly easier than using both hands – which could even triple the time needed.
You already know that unloading with both hands is what you should do, and this is where you have to make a choice: Do you want to get things done or do you want to get better?
This isn’t a one-time question, either.
You should ask it every time you feel yourself growing frustrated. Is this a situation where I need to get things done? Or can I afford to exert some extra time and energy towards getting better?
It’s completely up to you to decide, but be sure to put some careful thought into it.
Don’t Stop Living! Find Your Now
Focusing on recovery doesn’t mean you have to stop living.
If your old hobbies are no longer an option, then this is an opportunity to explore new things. Make this life a new one, and dare we say – a better one too.
If you can make the mental shift and view this stage of your life as an opportunity to grow, you’ll come out stronger.
There might be times where you want to cry and shake your fist in anger, but always remember that there is a life after stroke.
Eat some good healthy foods that help stroke recovery.
Bask in the beauty of nature.
Because tomorrow isn’t always promised.
And today is your chance to find little bits of life that you can live right now.
If you do that, it will make things a lot easier.