In Australia, there is one stroke every 9 minutes, with more than 56,000 new and recurrent strokes recorded in 2017. Following a stroke, the rehabilitation journey may seem daunting and you can be unsure of where to start or what exactly can be done to help you in returning to your day to day activities. The good news is that our brain is constantly adapting and changing; a term called neuroplasticity. This means that the brain has the potential to create new neural pathways that would allow you to achieve the same actions, movements, or processes as before – just a little differently.
How does a stroke affect you?
A stroke effects each person differently depending on where in the brain the stroke occurs, what type of stroke it was, how much brain tissue is affected, and general health and level of physical activity prior to the stroke.
65% of stroke survivors suffer a disability that causes disruption to their daily activities. Some day to day difficulties those who have suffered a stroke may face include:
- Weakness on one side of the body
- Poor coordination and difficulty controlling movements
- Difficulty swallowing food and drink
- Mood changes which affect personality and behaviour
- Difficulty with memory and cognition
- Reduced sensation (smell, touch, taste, sight, hearing)
- Problems with reading, writing, speaking and comprehension
Because of these difficulties, you may need to find new ways to do the everyday tasks that make up your daily life. This could include changes to how you bath and dress, complete household chores, drive, shop for daily necessities, and prepare and eat meals.
How to make the most of your rehabilitation?
When returning home after a stroke, it can be difficult to look to the future and see where you are wanting to be in the months and years following. By setting goals for what you want to achieve in both the short and long term, and developing achievable steps to work towards these, the process can seem much more approachable. You want to ensure that your goals are specific, able to be broken down into steps, and able to be measured to whether you have achieved the goal or not.
Another key factor in ensuring you achieve the best possible outcomes is surrounding yourself with a strong support network of family, friends and health professionals. So let’s take a look at who you may have on your allied health team and how they can help:
- Occupational therapists (OT) will work with you to get back to your daily tasks, work and even driving by implementing strategies or home modifications to make these activities more accessible. OT’s are also qualified to assist with memory and cognition difficulties.
- Speech Pathologists can, as the name suggests, help with trouble speaking or understanding others, and they can also assess your swallowing and recommend ways in which to ensure you can eat and drink safely.
- Dietitians provide advice and meal plans to ensure you are meeting your nutritional requirements, as well as reducing your risk for a subsequent stroke.
- Physiotherapists can provide a treatment plan which includes manual therapy techniques as well as specific exercises to improve your gait, posture and mobility.
- Exercise Physiologists will assess your physical ability and prescribe an appropriate exercise program to improve your muscle endurance and mobility.
Everyone in your team is wanting to see the best results for you, and will be working alongside you every step of the way. You may even have stroke support groups in your local area that you can become involved with and share your story. Having a holistic team approach means that no matter what your goals are, there is always someone that is qualified to help.
Are you eager to get started or have more questions?
If you or someone you know has been affected by a stroke, regardless of if it is early on in the rehab journey or in the months and years following and are looking for guidance on the next step, get in touch with us today on 1300 122 884, and build your team of allied health professionals that work with you in achieving your goals.
Article Written By Alicia Wallis