As a stroke survivor or caregiver, do you find yourself wondering if a full recovery from stroke is possible?
Predictions can be difficult because every stroke is different and therefore every recovery is different. While it’s impossible to predict who will recover completely, there are ways to maximize your chances of a full recovery.
This article will explore what it takes to maximize your chances of recovery from stroke.
Pushing for a Full Recovery from Stroke
Most stroke survivors have different goals during rehabilitation. Some are focused on walking again, while others are focused on regaining hand function.
But everyone seems to have the same goal: to get back to normal. In fact, the definition of recovery is “a return to a normal state of health, mind, or strength.”
The path to recovery looks different for every stroke survivor. While no therapist can promise a complete recovery, it’s important to set ambitious yet realistic goals.
If you set your goals too low, you may stop before you’ve maximized your chances of recovery. But if your goals are too high, you might become frustrated before you’ve reached your full potential.
Therefore, it’s important to set realistic goals during stroke recovery, and keep setting higher goals as you progress. The more you improve, the more you are able to set new goals for a higher level of healing and recovery.
Can You Fully Recover from a Stroke?
How close can you get to a full recovery from stroke?
While every stroke is different, there are some well-documented phenomena worth noting.
In the early stages of recovery, the fastest gains occur within the first 3 months after a stroke. After the 3 month plateau, results may slow but they will not stop as long as the patient continues rehabilitation.
One study analyzed the impact of long-term rehabilitation by gathering 51 stroke patients that could not walk 3 months post-stroke. Researchers then followed their progress for 2 years.
At the end of the study, 74% of the patients regained their capacity to walk without assistance. Furthermore, up to 79% had a Barthel Index score above 70, which implies minimal dependence with the activities of daily living.
This means that, even though recovery slows after the first 3 months, recovery may continue for years as long as you continue with consistent rehabilitation.
What If You Stopped Rehab Years Ago?
It’s also worth nothing that, if you stop pursuing rehab, you can pick up at any point and continue recovery. It’s never too late.
Some patients worry that, because they stopped rehab years ago, there’s no hope for improving anymore. But here at Flint Rehab, we have seen patients as far as 24 years post-stroke start improving hand function again.
After watching these changes happen over and over, we concluded that recovery is possible even decades after a stroke.
Hope inspires action, and action creates results.
Speaking of action, here are some suggestions to maximize your chances of recovery from stroke.
How to Achieve Your Highest Recovery from Stroke
Here are 5 steps you can take to achieve your highest possible recovery:
1. Find the Best Stroke Rehabilitation Methods for You
Every stroke survivor benefits from different rehabilitation methods. What helped one person achieve recovery might not work for you.
To maximize your chances of recovery, it’s important to experiment with different rehabilitation techniques until you find the one that is most effective for you.
For example, mirror therapy could help one person increase hand function, but another person might not respond as well. Another type of therapy might be successful for others, like FitMi home therapy.
Also, if you hit a stroke recovery plateau, changing your rehabilitation methods may help you overcome that obstacle. Experimentation and variety are keys to recovery.
2. Be Mindful of Compensation Techniques
To maximize your chances of recovery, you need to stay mindful of the difference between compensation and recovery.
Compensation involves performing an old movement in a new manner. Recovery involves restoring the ability to perform a movement in the same manner as it was performed before injury.
For example, if your dominant hand became impaired after stroke, compensation would involve eating with your non-dominant hand. Recovery would involve working diligently at hand rehabilitation to effectively hold a fork with your dominant hand, as you did before the stroke.
This doesn’t mean that compensation techniques are bad. Compensatory aids like canes and walkers are necessary for your safety, especially in the early stages of recovery. If your therapist trains you to use a walker, it is necessary for your safety.
As you continue to progress, continue to challenge yourself to attempt new skills.
Keep asking yourself, “Can I do this differently today?”
3. Stay Focused on the Positive
During Flint Rehab’s work in stroke rehabilitation, we have heard some incredible stories of healing and recovery
Some stroke patients recover because their therapist believed in them, and as a result, they believed in themselves. Hope inspires action, and action leads to results.
On the other hand, some patients witness limiting beliefs, such as always being in a wheelchair. Lack of hope discourages action, and inaction limits recovery.
Every day there are people achieving a higher recovery than their doctor predicted. Your mindset may make the difference.
4. Use High Repetition to Promote Recovery from Stroke
The most effective way to reach your full potential during stroke recovery is to focus on activating neuroplasticity: the mechanism your brain uses to rewire itself.
Neuroplasticity is activated by repetition. To improve your balance and gait after stroke, practice leg exercises with high repetition.
Repetitive exercise is how stroke survivors – who were once told they would be in wheelchairs for the rest of their lives – get back on their feet
5. Don’t Compare Your Recovery
Your stroke recovery timeline might be shorter or longer than your doctor predicted. When obstacles come your way, it’s important to stick to your regimen and never give up.
If you see others recovering faster from stroke than you, remember that everyone’s road to recovery is different.
Action creates results. As long as you keep taking action, there will be positive changes.
Your brain is working throughout your entire life to adapt and change to make functions more efficient.
Stepping Closer to a Full Recovery from Stroke
We hope these steps help you maximize your chances of recovery from stroke.
It’s important to stay positive yet realistic so you can work towards recovery on a daily basis. The road to recovery can be long, but with the right mindset, the journey will continue.
Most importantly, believe in a higher recovery. When you believe that something positive can happen, you’re much more likely to actually experience something positive since you’ll be more inspired to take action.