Data from the United States show that approximately 10% of all stroke survivors recover almost completely. About 25% of the survivors recover with minor impairments, while about 40% of survivors experience moderate to severe impairments.
At the other end of the spectrum, we find the 10% of stroke survivors that are in such bad long-term condition that they require care in a nursing home or other long-term care facility. It should also be noted that approximately 15% of stroke survivors die shortly after the stroke – often because of another stroke.
There is still so much more to learn about stroke and stroke recovery, and it can be very difficult even for experience physicians to accurately predict the long-term outcome for an individual stroke survivor. We do know that the brain has a remarkable capacity to compensate for the damage caused by the stroke, and that we can aid this recovery in various ways, including exercises where e try to carry out the tasks that we find difficult after the stroke.
A few decades ago, stroke patients were put on bed rest and order to relax as much as possible after a stroke – the idea was the rest would help them recover their strength and also reduce the risk of another stroke.
Today, we know that physical and mental therapy should start quickly after a stroke to give the best effect. In many cases, it should start just two days after the stroke. Naturally, the exercises must be tailored to the capacity and needs of the individual patient.
There are many professionals that can be of great help for a person recovering from a stroke. Here are a few suggestions:
The neurologist is a medical doctor specializing in the brain, spinal cord and nerves.
The physiatrist is a medical doctor specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation. They are also known as PM & R physicians.
The neuropsychologist can diagnose and treat issues pertaining to fields such as thinking, behavior, impulse control, memory, depression, etc.
The rehabilitation nurse
This is a nurse specializing in helping with the rehabilitation of people with disabilities.
The Speech-Language Pathologist (SPL)
The speech-language pathologist work to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders.
The physical therapist (PT)
A physical therapist can help a stroke survivor with issues regarding movement and balance. Typically, the PT will create physical exercise plans to strengthen muscles, improve balance, etc.
The occupational therapist (OT)
The occupational therapist specializes in helping those who need to develop strategies for managing daily activities, such as showering, eating, dressing, cooking, etc.
The recreation therapist (RT)
While the OT is focused on helping you get back to doing basic everyday life stuff, the recreational therapist will focus on your need to get back into your favorite recreational activities as well as exploring new recreational activities that you might not have tried out before. Your work with the RT can involve both physical and mental exercises.
The work of the dietitian is two-fold.
- After a stroke, you might have problems with chewing and swallowing which can require a change of diet.
- Also, a dietitian can help you improve your diet to reduce the risk of another stroke.