After A Stroke, Therapy Can Help You Regain Physical and Cognitive Function

You might find that you have a hard time returning to your daily life and routines after having a stroke. Since a stroke causes brain damage, it will affect your entire body—but this doesn’t mean a stroke has to slow you down permanently. With the help of medical professionals, you can regain many of your abilities as you recover.

How is life different after a stroke?

The effects of a stroke vary from person to person. Some people may see very few effects, while others may have severe complications that include:

  • One-sided weakness
  • Communication difficulty
  • Limb numbness
  • Full or partial paralysis
  • Vision challenges
  • Cognitive decline

Any one of these complications can make movements that used to come naturally seem nearly impossible. You can read more about life after a stroke on the American Stroke Association’s website.

What is a stroke timeline?

When you’re being treated for a stroke, the doctors will need to determine both the type of stroke you’re having and how long it has been since it began. You’ll have a much better chance of full recovery if you receive treatment fast. The longer a stroke cuts off the supply of blood to your brain, the more damage it will cause.

Working with your healthcare team

You’ll begin your recovery journey before you leave the hospital, because stroke rehabilitation will start as soon as you’re stabilized. Your medical team will stabilize you by returning the normal blood flow to your brain. The faster you begin recovery work, the better the chance that you’ll have a successful rehabilitation.

Everyone follows a different path to stroke recovery depending on the effects of the stroke. You’ll work with a team of professionals as you recover to regain skills, build strength and get back to your daily life. These professionals can include:

  • Speech language pathologists (SLP). An SLP can help you recover your language, regain the ability to swallow and more.
  • Occupational therapists (OT). An OT can help you regain skills such as bathing, dressing and grooming yourself.
  • Physical therapists (PT). Working with a PT can help you overcome any weakness and address stroke-related issues you might be having, such as balance and coordination difficulties.

Post-stroke cognitive exam

During your recovery, you’ll have a cognitive exam to help your team determine which services you’ll need as you recover. A cognitive decline is any negative change in your ability to think, so you’ll likely be asked a series of questions testing your memory, problem-solving abilities and communication skills. You’ll also be assessed as you perform physical tasks under the supervision of your healthcare team.

The members of your healthcare team will be present at the exam to assist you, identify any limitations you have as a result of your stroke and make recommendations for your therapy. They will look for decline that was specifically caused by the stroke rather than by aging.

One primary difference is that post-stroke impairment comes on suddenly, while age-related decline will be a gradual progression. Another difference is that assistance from a healthcare team can slow down age-related decline but is unlike to reverse it, while some damage from a stroke often can be reversed with the help of your healthcare team.

Post-stroke improvement with physical therapy

At Heather Lane Physical Therapy, we work with you after your stroke to provide assessments, treatment plans and therapy. Having a stroke can feel like a significant setback, but with the right services you can get back on your feet and back to your life.

The American Stroke Association, Effects of a Stroke,

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