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Recovery from stroke is hard work

Jenny Decker RN's picture

Recovering from stroke is hard work. In a study published in Stroke, surveys found that feelings of hopelessness and apathy are very common. Those who sit back and let things just happen around them without effort have worse outcomes than those who get to work and have a positive attitude. Detachment and disinterest in the recovery process has been shown to increase artery thickening. This may put the person at increased risk of stroke recurrence.

Stroke is the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of disability. The National Stroke Association describes a stroke as a “brain attack”. It affects speech, memory, and movement. The degree to which it affects these three areas depends on how severe the attack is and where it occurred in the brain. Recovery from stroke is possible, however 2/3 will suffer permanent disability.

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There are several factors that place one at risk for stroke. Factors such as increased age, being male, race (African American, Hispanic, and Asian/Pacific Islanders), family history of stroke and personal history of stroke or TIA’s are things that cannot be changed. However, there are factors that can be changed. High blood pressure is a risk for stroke. Atrial fibrillation is too. Other factors that can be changed include lowering cholesterol, controlling diabetes, quitting smoking, and losing weight. It is estimated that 80% of strokes are preventable.

Immediate attention must be given for the following signs and symptoms. If you think you are having a stroke, get help right away.

o Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg (especially if it is on only one side)
o Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding
o Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
o Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
o Sudden severe headaches without any known cause

Apathy and hopelessness after a stroke are common. There is no doubt that all those who suffer strokes feel that same feeling. Recovery is possible and it is up to the person who experienced the stroke to make it happen. Outcome of the recovery process depends on the attitude of the person who is recovering. Support is extremely important. Recovery requires constant support from family and friends. Maintaining a positive attitude is difficult unless there is encouragement from others.