The time after a stroke can be very frightening. There are no absolutes in stroke recovery. About 700,000 people experience strokes each year, and roughly two-thirds of these people will require rehabilitation services to recover.
Immediately after a stroke medical professionals will work to stabilize your condition. Strokes are the third most common reason for death, so your survival is the first concern of the medical staff. Once your condition stabilizes, your medical team will immediately turn toward rehabilitation. Strokes are the leading cause of long term disability, and doctors recognize the importance of helping you regain as many of your lost and damaged skills as possible.
To help you recover after having a stroke, your doctor will assemble a rehabilitation team that is chosen to directly address your health problems. Some of the health professionals that help in stroke recovery are physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists, rehabilitation nurses, psychologists and social workers. These professionals work under the supervision of a physician to help you recover after a stroke.
One of the main concerns your doctor may have for you after a stroke is the risk of another stroke. 25% of people who suffer from a stroke will experience a second stroke within five years; nearly 15% will experience a second stroke within the same year. For this reason, your physician must balance the importance of developing an aggressive plan for rehabilitation and working with you to develop a lifestyle that reduces the risk of a second stroke.
The most important thing that you can do to reduce the risk of a second stroke is, if you smoke, stop. If you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes, it is important to keep these under control. Obesity is another risk factor for a second stroke. Even if you are not overweight, a sedentary lifestyle can also increase the risk of a second stroke.
While you are doing everything possible to reduce the risk of a second stroke, you will also begin intensive therapy to heal from the first stroke. After a stroke it is important to begin intensive therapy as soon as possible. If one side of the body is paralyzed from the stroke, passive exercise, where a medical professional moves the affected limbs, can slow the atrophy of muscles while you work to regain use of the affected areas. The longer you can continue physical therapy after a stroke, the more progress you will make. Even after progress slows, improvement will continue.