One thing many people wonder, especially those whose lives have in some way been affected, is how to recover from a stroke. A stroke, or a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) occurs when the blood supply to the brain gets disrupted or cut off, killing brain cells. In short, your gray matter becomes a metaphorical gasoline-soaked anthill, and the stroke is the match.
There are two types of strokes known today to medicine: ischemic and hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke is the most common type and it’s the product of fatty deposits blocking the arteries. This type accounts for over 80 percent of all strokes; coincidentally, 80 percent of strokes are said to be completely preventable and they’re of the ischemic variety. The other type is a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and blood leaks into the brain (the most typical cause is a ruptured aneurysm). No amount of dieting, exercise or pills will help prevent an aneurysm, unfortunately. If you’re lucky enough to live through an aneurysm, you get a hemorrhagic stroke. What a bargain.
If you or someone you know has suffered from a CVA, here are some steps you can follow on how to recover from a stroke and its devastating effects.
- Brain damage is inevitable. It’s very hard to come to terms with something like this, but since a stroke is the result of lack of blood flow to the brain for an extended period of time, part of the brain will die. You have to keep this in mind and understand that whoever has to recover from a stroke will not be ‘all there’ mentally.
- Work with a physical therapist. Many people who suffer strokes will forget how to walk, talk, eat or do other basic things. There are rehabilitation programs available to individuals who need to get their bodies and minds working again when they recover from a stroke. Carf.org is a great website for finding the aforesaid rehab clinics.
- Follow doctor’s orders. This one is just common sense; if your doctor tells you to do something and take some pills, do so. It could prevent future strokes from occurring and help you cope with the damage that has already been done.
- Mini-strokes. Also called mild strokes, these are basically CVA Lite; they have the same symptoms of a full-blown stroke, such as one-sided paralysis, slurred speech and overall confusion, but they only last a couple minutes and won’t kill you. These are red flags that you should get treatment immediately because it means a standard and possibly fatal stroke could follow in its wake. Don’t ignore these symptoms.
- Eat a well-balanced diet. Not subsisting on pizza and Twinkies will help you significantly not just after a stroke, but in general. A healthier diet can improve overall health and stave off things like heart disease, hypertension and diabetes. Even if you didn’t have a stroke, it’s good to do this. Cut back on the fat, nix the sugar, and put down the booze.
- Try and stay positive. Easier said than done, I know. Recovering from a stroke is a very long and intricate process, and giving up when you don’t see results overnight won’t help you. Your life may seem like it’s over, but you need to learn to adapt to your new life if you want to live it.
- Have emotional support. During this trying time, you’ll need somebody to be there to assist you or maybe even just to listen. And if the patient is severely disabled, someone will need to be with them at all times to prevent the person from falling or wandering off or to help the person if they injure themselves. While some people are mentally competent and can’t move following a CVA, some people will walk for miles in the middle of traffic to go feed horses that were never there.