About Stroke Rehabilitation, Recovery Time, and Survival Rate

You’ve had a stroke and have suffered a disability. Recovering fully depends on the severity of the stroke, how quickly treatment was started after the onset of the attack and the presence of any complications.

Other factors that influence prognosis, rehab success and recovery time include:

  • how much brain is damaged due to the stroke
  • how hard you work toward recovery in your rehabilitation  program
  • your age at the time of the stroke; elderly people require more time to recover
  • any pre-existing medical problems that can affect recovery

Rehabilitation is the most important stage of recovery for most stroke survivors. It is the therapy that restores you to health and normal life through training after the stroke.

Post-stroke your life takes a big turn. Everything is different, you find yourself depending on others for many actions including your daily routine activities.

Rehab can make you live independently and not depend on others. It can bring your life somewhere closer to what it used to be prior to the stroke. It does not, however, reverse the effects of stroke.

But, it helps to build your lost strength, your confidence and your capacity to carry on with your daily actions.

What percentage of stroke patients make a full recovery?

Presently, the statistics declare that

  • About 10 percent of stroke survivors recover more or less completely. These are the people in whom emergency treatment was started immediately after the onset of symptoms.
  • 25 percent recover with mild remains of disability
  • 40 percent are left with moderate to severe disability
  • 10 percent require being admitted long-term in a nursing home or a stroke care facility.
  • About 15 percent succumb shortly after a stroke

When does rehabilitation begin?

To begin rehabilitation, you have to be medically fit first, meaning your vital signs require to be stable. Your doctor will be the best person to judge this.

And, only on his prescription, you should start this program. It can be as early as 24 to 48 hours after the stroke.

However, it varies from patient to patient depending on the type and intensity of the stroke and the condition of the patient.

Where is rehabilitation done?

Rehabilitation services are provided in various different settings:

  • Rehabilitation hospitals and centers
  • Long-term care facilities
  • At home with the help of visiting rehab agencies
  • At outpatient services

You may be required to make use of the help of some or all the above options.

It depends on what your doctor feels will best suit you. It depends on the needs of your condition, which tell of the type of rehabilitation program best suited for you.

Who advises you on stroke rehabilitation?

A variety of specialists and physicians who specialize in stroke rehabilitation help you with the program. They are called physiatrists.

Specialists who can help with your physical needs include:

  • Physicians, neurologists, and specialists in physical medicine
  • Rehabilitation nurses
  • Physical therapists
  • Occupational therapists

According to the National Institutes of Health, rehabilitative therapy should focus more on cognitive therapy than on physical function. Specialists who focus on cognitive, mental and occupational rehab include:

  • Speech and language pathologists
  • Social workers. Social workers help connect you to financial resources, plan for new living arrangements if necessary and identify community resources.
  • Psychologists
  • Therapeutic recreation specialists help to provide support for the individual to participate in leisure activities and improve the quality of life.
  • Vocational counselors help stroke survivors with disabilities live a full and more independent life by assisting them in procuring profitable employment.

What is a stroke rehabilitation program? What will I do in rehab?

A rehab program is formulated as per the individual needs, meaning it focuses on the disability of the stroke survivor.

He could be suffering from speech problems, or he could be hemiplegic or having some such complications that have arisen from disruption of blood supply to the particular part of the brain.

The program aims to remove the disability or reduce its effect, improve function, and make you independent. It will help you get back your basic skills such as walking, bathing, eating, and dressing.

Rehab is carried out by specialists called physiatrists and their services include:

  • Nursing care for tasks such as mobilization, positioning, feeding, etc.
  • Physiotherapy aims to achieve recovery of physical movements and functions such as walking or propelling a wheelchair and self-care skills such as feeding, grooming, bathing, use of the toilet, tying your shoes, buttoning your shirt. and dressing.
  • Occupational therapy enables people to participate in everyday life activities.
  • Speech therapy to improve communication skills
  • Audiology is carried out by providing diagnostic, rehabilitative, and other services and aids associated with hearing problems
  • Nutritional counseling analyzes the health needs and advises changes with regard to diet and exercise.
  • Psychiatric or psychological support is given for any emotional and mental disturbances and improves cognitive skills.
  • The hospital chaplain provides spiritual support as part of the rehab to the stroke patients.
  • Patient and family education is provided to share decision making, motivate and improve self-management.
  • Support groups help reduce loneliness and depression and improve enduring skills and sense of adjustment. They also help to interact with other people.

The other services that you may be offered are vocational evaluation and exercises, driver’s training and such various skills to improve your physical and emotional stamina that you may require getting back so that you can go back to work.

How long does stroke rehabilitation last?

Recovering from a stroke through a rehab program can be a long and trying experience.

How motivated and dedicated you are in following the program is the key factor that will help you gain the most benefit.

The duration of your stroke rehabilitation till satisfactory results are obtained depends on how severe your stroke was and whether any related complications have set.

Some stroke survivors recover quickly, while the majority needs long-term stroke rehabilitation that can last for months or years.

What factors affect the outcome of stroke rehabilitation?

The outcome of stroke recovery varies from person to person. It’s difficult to predict how many disabilities you are able to recover from and how soon.

The following factors influence the outcome:

  • The severity of your physical and cognitive stroke complications
  • Your motivation and dedication to stick to the rehabilitation guidelines
  • The support of friends and family
  • An early start to your rehabilitation and the expertise of your stroke rehabilitation team play a vital role
  • The rate of recovery is significantly high in the weeks and months following a stroke. However, improvement is seen to occur even 12 to 18 months after a stroke.

How long does it take to recover from a stroke?

It is difficult to predict how long it takes for the stroke survivor to recover from the stroke after effects. There is never a total recovery from a stroke because once the brain cells die they never recover.

But, those that have been partially damaged such as due to pressure from hemorrhage or swelling of the brain can recover and start functioning again.

Recovery from a mild stroke is quicker while that from a severe stroke can take a lifetime. The time interval to recover from stroke symptoms varies because every stroke and stroke survivor is different. And, the amount of recovery will differ from person to person,

The earliest and biggest recovery from a stroke takes 3 to 4 months. In some stroke survivors, it may take a year or two.

Stroke rehabilitation for the elderly may be required to last anywhere from a few weeks to many years, depending on the individual’s health status.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, recovery time and the quantum of recovery from a stroke depend on the following factors:

  • The cause or type of the stroke
  • The age of the patient
  • Overall health of the patient
  • Amount of brain damage caused by the stroke
  • How quickly rehab begins and how regular and consistent it is.
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