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Stroke victims can develop many different problems, typically tied to the area of the brain that is affected by the stroke. A patient may experience paralysis to one side of the body, problems feeling pain and other sensations, difficulty talking or understanding what others are saying, problems with thinking or reasoning skills, and emotional volatility. Regardless of what type of disabilities result, there are several things that the patient and his or her family can do to speed recovery. Beginning rehabilitation as soon as possible in a facility that has a lot of experience treating patients who have suffered strokes is important, as is the support of family and friends.
Time is of the essence, and the earlier that rehabilitation begins, the better a stroke victim’s outcome. For best results, hospitals begin rehabilitation as soon as the patient’s medical condition stabilizes, often within 48 hours of the event.
Other factors that will speed a patient's recovery is the cooperation and support of family and friends. In fact, many medical professionals believe that a supportive group of people surrounding the patient is the most important factor in the person recovering as much as possible from a stroke. While it would be nice if everyone with a supportive family could expect to fully recover from a stroke, this is only one component of healing. The degree of damage to the brain can have an effect on the amount of lasting damaging from the stroke.
The experience of the rehabilitation team is also important. The patient may not have much control over the level of damage suffered during a stroke, but the variables that he or she can control will have a great effect on the speed of recovery. Stroke victims should be treated in a hospital that is equipped to handle early rehabilitation. If the hospital is not set up for this rehabilitation, the patient's family should request a transfer as soon as his or her condition has stabilized.
A hospital staff that has experience working with stroke victims will begin implementing occupational and physical therapy right away. This may be as simple as encouraging the patient to change positions in bed, but it is very important to the rehabilitation process. The longer that a patient has to wait to begin rehabilitation, the more difficult the progress will be.
Stroke rehabilitation is not easy, and up to 40% of patients will suffer long-term impairment of a moderate to severe level. During the beginning of the rehabilitation process, improvement happens rapidly and it is easy to stay motivated. After the majority of improvements occur, however, the job becomes much more difficult.
Results at this point may become much less apparent, and it is tempting for many stroke patients to believe that they have made as much progress as possible at this point and drop their rehabilitation. It is important for them not to give up, however, and while improvements happen more slowly at this point, they still occur. Patients who remain faithful to their physical and occupational therapy may continue to see improvements for years after a stroke.