Life after stroke: Advice for physical and emotional recovery
by Brandpoint (ARA) Sponsored Content
Aug 28, 2013 | 39261 views | 0 0 comments | 331 331 recommendations | email to a friend | print
(BPT) - Did you know a stroke occurs every 40 seconds on average? About 795,000 Americans suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year, according to the American Stroke Association. If you or a loved one has survived a stroke, recovery depends largely on the severity of the brain damage. With love, support and patience, the journey toward a new normal can begin.

A stroke is life changing for the patient as well as his or her support network. Some people make a full recovery, while others suffer from various disabilities. In addition to working closely with a doctor through a personalized recovery program, joining a support group is a great initial step. When coping with the aftermath of a stroke, it can help to be surrounded by others with similar experiences. Some difficult parts of stroke rehabilitation may include:

Communication challenges

Difficulties communicating can be some of the most frustrating effects of stroke. Depending on where the brain is damaged, it’s not uncommon to suffer partial or total loss of the ability to talk, read, write or understand what people say. It’s important to be patient and stay positive.

Make it a goal to practice communicating at least once a day. Relax, take your time and use communication aids as necessary, like cue cards. Using fewer words paired with gestures or tone of voice can help streamline communication. Many people benefit from speech and language therapy.

Family and friends need to remember that improving communication skills engages stroke survivors so they feel more connected and less isolated, an important part of rehabilitation.

Physical movement

Getting out of the house and being able to move independently provides a sense of freedom during recovery. Many stroke survivors regain the ability to walk, but may suffer from side effects that make it more difficult. Foot drop is a common side effect, which means difficulty lifting the front of the foot when walking, so much so that it may drag, which can be a tripping hazard.

Foot drop may be a temporary or permanent condition caused by stroke. The good news is there are options to help. Vibration therapy provided through affordable products like the Step Sensor by Brownmed can help increase mobility and retrain muscles and nerves in the leg and foot to respond as they should while walking.

Unlike traditional ankle-foot orthoses that are big and bulky, the Step Sensor is comfortable and discreet to wear under slacks. It works like some more dynamic Foot Drop Stimulators, without the costly doctor-led training or required weekly follow-ups. Simply adhere the pressure switch to the insole of your shoe, beneath your heel, and wrap the vibrating band around your leg just below the knee. A gentle vibration will occur when your heel strikes the ground, providing a subtle, yet effective, reminder to lift your toe. What’s more, the Step Sensor provides only topical vibration, so it’s even safe to use if you have a pacemaker or other cardiac conditions. Learn more at

Emotional adjustment

When adjusting to life after a stroke, survivors often experience a flood of emotions. Grieving for loss of physical and mental abilities is normal and a healthy part of the adjusting process. But when normal sadness continues for extended periods, it can turn into depression and needs to be treated immediately by a mental health professional.

Stroke survivors also often feel anxiety. Extreme worry or fear can cause restlessness, fatigue, muscle tension, poor concentration and irritability. Both depression and anxiety are common for stroke survivors. The good news is they can be treated, and there are many coping mechanisms, so be sure to ask your doctor.

Whether adjusting to physical impairments or the emotions of suffering from a major health scare, it’s important to remain positive. Loved ones are a crucial part of rehabilitation and can provide support when it is needed most. It might take years to adjust to a new normal after a stroke, both for the victim and the families, but patience and love can help ensure a speedier recovery for everyone.

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

report abuse...

Express yourself:

We're glad to give readers a forum to express their points of view on issues important to this community. That forum is the “Letters to the Editor.” Letters to the editor may be submitted directly to The Times-Independent through this link and will be published in the print edition of the newspaper. All letters must be the original work of the letter writer – form letters will not be accepted. All letters must include the actual first and last name of the letter writer, the writer’s address, city and state and telephone number. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

Letters may not exceed 400 words in length, must be regarding issues of general interest to the community, and may not include personal attacks, offensive language, ethnic or racial slurs, or attacks on personal or religious beliefs. Letters should focus on a single issue. Letters that proselytize or focus on theological debates will not be published. During political campaigns, The Times-Independent will not publish letters supporting or opposing any local candidate. Thank you letters are generally not accepted for publication unless the letter has a public purpose. Thank you letters dealing with private matters that compliment or complain about a business or individual will not be published. Nor will letters listing the names of individuals and/or businesses that supported a cause or event. Thank you letters about good Samaritan acts will be considered at the discretion of the newspaper.