Life after stroke is full of new variables that require rigorous preparation in order to feel confident moving forward.
To help you navigate the road to recovery, we’re about to share our best tips for life after stroke. Let’s get straight to it.
Healing During Life After Stroke
First, we’ll discuss practical tips for healing the brain and recovering function. Then, we’ll share some lifestyle changes that can help you recover.
1. Focus on Healing the Brain
During life after stroke, repetition is everything. Repetition stimulates the brain and activates neuroplasticity, the process of forming new neural connections.
Neuroplasticity is how the brain heals itself after stroke.
It allows healthy parts of the brain to take over the functions that the damaged parts of the brain cannot execute anymore.
2. Participate in Various Therapies
It’s likely that you received or will receive therapy during your initial hospital stay, and may even be recommended to go to inpatient and/or outpatient rehabilitation afterwards.
The types of therapy you receive will depend upon your unique stroke effects. Typically, therapy can include:
- Physical therapy to restore motor skills
- Occupational therapy to help with the activities of daily living
- Speech therapy to restore swallowing abilities, cognition, and language skills
Take advantage of the first 3 months post-stroke when neuroplasticity is in a heightened state. Therapy will have a greater impact during this time.
3. Motivate Yourself at Home
After discharge home from the hospital, and between outpatient therapy visits, it’s important to keep exercising at home. Remember: it’s all about repetition if you want results.
It can be difficult to stay motivated with just a sheet of written exercises, though. Instead, try investing in some motivating stroke rehab equipment.
Home therapy devices like Flint Rehab’s FitMi can help you accomplish high repetition of rehab exercise by gamifying the experience. This makes it more rewarding and satisfying.
4. Adapt First, Then Overcome
When you consult with your therapists, they will probably recommend adaptive equipment and home modifications to help you stay safe during life after stroke.
For example, if you have poor balance, they may recommend a walker or cane. You should listen to your therapists and get any equipment they recommend.
Don’t stop there, though. By continuing with your therapies, you can keep improving so that one day you might not need the adaptive equipment anymore.
That’s the difference between compensation and recovery. However, there is no shame if your therapists recommend you to continue relying on certain equipment for safety.
5. Help Caregivers Help You
During stroke recovery, patients might become more dependent upon caregivers to carry out certain tasks. It can take some time to learn how to help someone with a disability, so make it easy on them. Provide loved ones with a guide on how to help someone that had a stroke.
It will help them help you. Additionally, if a family member will be caring for you after your discharge from the hospital, your therapists in inpatient rehab should provide them some form of training to make sure they know how to properly care for you before you go home.
6. Eat Well
Hopefully, life after stroke will involve healthier eating choices in order to help minimize chances of a second stroke.
Many stroke risk factors, like atherosclerosis (buildup of cholesterol plaque in artery walls) and obesity, can be improved with a healthy diet.
Consult with your dietician to generate an eating plan that includes plenty of nutritious foods for stroke recovery.
Lifestyle Changes During Life After Stroke
Now that you have all the technical tips, let’s move onto motivational tactics that can help you cope with life after stroke.
7. Make Peace with Slow
If you sustained motor impairments after stroke, then it probably makes everyday tasks take longer to accomplish, often leading to frustration.
During life after stroke, it’s important to be patient with yourself. This isn’t a time where a fast-paced life is supported.
Instead, it’s time to transition to a slow life – at least while you’re in recovery. Give yourself the time and space to heal. You deserve it!
8. Boost Morale with Positive Psychology
Post-stroke depression is a common result of stroke that likely stems from the drastic changes following a stroke.
When the effects of depression are severe, they can compromise your ability to participate in beloved hobbies or carry out the activities of daily living.
To help boost morale, try to apply neuroplasticity to your mood!
This is called positive psychology, and it works by repetitively focusing on the good so that your brain naturally focuses on the good.
There’s more that goes into it, of course. You can learn more in the book Healing & Happiness After Stroke.
9. Get Support
It’s also important to support yourself during life after stroke.
Do whatever you need to do to keep yourself motivated on the road to recovery.
10. Question Everything
Life after stroke should be full of curiosity. If someone has told you that you can’t do something, or that you’ll never recover to a certain degree, challenge them.
Every stroke is different, and every recovery will be different. There are no limits since the limits are unknown!
Strive for a full recovery from stroke by constantly challenging your beliefs to see how far you can actually go. Just make sure to do things safely along the way!
11. Keep Going
Whether it’s been months, years, or decades since your stroke – recovery is possible.
Stroke patients frequently ask if they can improve movement with our rehabilitation tools even though it’s been several years or decades since their stroke.
We have seen patients as far as 24 years post-stroke improve movement with our home therapy tools.
Never give up hope. Trust that when you put in the work, the brain will respond.
Good luck on the road to recovery! We hope you enjoyed this guide to life after stroke.