According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke every year, and stroke is responsible for 1 out of every 20 deaths in the United States. In fact, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death for Americans, and is also one of the leading causes of serious long-term disability.
A stroke can be caused by a blocked artery, which is known as ischemic stroke, or the leaking or bursting of a blood vessel, which is hemorrhagic stroke. Unless there is early intervention, these situations will interrupt the blood flow to the brain, causing brain cells to die as they are deprived of necessary oxygen and nutrients.
You might be more at risk for a stroke if you’re not in good physical condition and are overweight or obese, live a sedentary lifestyle, are a heavy drinker or smoker, or have medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or cardiovascular disease. Your age can also be factor as those age 55 and older have a higher risk of stroke.
Research is still being conducted regarding stroke recovery, as there’s still a lot to learn about the ways our brains compensate for the damage a stroke can cause. According to Stroke.org, 40% of those who suffered a stroke will experience moderate to severe impairments that will require special care, while only 10% of stroke survivors almost completely recover.
The degree to which a person will need rehabilitation depends on the severity of the stroke suffered. However, in all cases, the sooner the survivor can start rehabilitative therapies, the better the outcome and chances for a full recovery.
Immediately following a stroke, the survivor, his or her family and the medical team consisting of a doctor, nurse and rehabilitation specialists must work together to create a plan for recovery. To be as effective as possible, the program must allow the survivor to recover at the pace that will best fit their abilities and needs. The average stroke recovery time for most survivors take around six months to up to a year if he or she is maintaining the necessary therapies.
The goal of any stroke rehabilitation program is to get the survivor back to the highest level of independence and functionality possible. The rehabilitation will be prescribed according to the extent of neurological and physical damage from the stroke, as well as the type of stroke suffered. A variety or combination of physical, occupational and speech therapies will take place, often scheduled at least twice daily.
Rehabilitation will start in the hospital as soon as a patient is stable. The sooner a survivor starts stroke rehabilitation, the more likely he or she will be to regain lost abilities and skills. When the survivor is ready to be discharged from the hospital, the medical team and family will determine the best setting to continue therapy and rehabilitation. Common settings for stroke rehabilitation include:
Skilled Nursing Facilities. Skilled nursing facilities can provide a range of therapies and long-term care.
Assisted Living Communities. Like a skilled nursing facility, assisted living communities can also provide long term care and assistance with daily living tasks for those who are able to maintain a higher level of independence following a stroke.
In-Home Health Care. If a survivor is well enough to return home, therapy can be arranged to be provided by therapists within the home.
While stroke rehabilitation might be a long and arduous process for some, the importance of maintaining therapy cannot be stressed enough for a successful recovery.