After experiencing a stroke, people will inevitably have many questions and concerns about how and sometimes if you will ever recover. It can be a daunting time filled with uncertainty and has the ability to affect your social and psychological health. However, although strokes affect everybody differently, it is also important to note that many survivors will continue to improve over a long period of time.

Over a number of years, recovery from a stroke will involve making changes in all health aspects of your life. These changes will not only facilitate long term health, but they will also help to prevent a second or even third stroke from happening.

The process of recovering from a stroke will be very specific to the individual and will very much depend on the symptoms and severity. However, the road to good health will often start whilst in hospital and will continue well into your local clinic when you’re ready to leave.

There can be many people involved when beginning rehabilitation, including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, psychologists, and specialist nurses. Throughout your recovery, you should be very much involved in the process by setting shared goals with professionals that you want to achieve. Still, what are some of the main problems caused by strokes and how do many overcome them?

Psychological Affects:

Those who have suffered with a stroke can often have two main types of psychological conditions which are: depression and anxiety. It is not uncommon for someone to experience intense intervals of crying, withdrawing from social activities and generally feeling hopelessness. Additionally, many also have feelings of uncontrolled anxiety, leading to panic attacks. Many others will feel angry and frustrated due to the often slow recovery.

A short time after your stroke, you should be given a psychological assessment to determine the impact on your emotional health. The psychological impact of a stroke should not be underplayed and can impact upon other family members and friends.

There could very well be a psychological side effect of having a stroke and they will often settle down after time. However, should the effects be long-lasting or very sever then you may well be referred to a psychologist or psychiatrist.

Treatments for mental health conditions suffered with strokes can be medicines, counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). CBT is a therapy that can change the way you think, often perceiving things with a more positive point of view which can be really effective for stroke sufferers.

Communication

After a stroke, many will suffer with communication problems, specifically speech can be difficult. Having said this, the condition can make people use the wrong words or not speak in the correct order. The reason for this is because the area of the brain responsible for language can become damaged.

Those with communication issues such as this will often be referred to a speech therapist to gain control over your speech muscles as well as using communication aids such as letter charts. Some will prefer group therapy and others may choose to use a computer to help improve technique.

More recently there has been a significant growth in treating speech related condition with mobile or tablet applications. Having said this, it is usually only ever beneficial alongside the help of a speech therapist.

Bowel control:

Although not very common, some strokes can actually damage the part of the brain that controls bowl movements. This can make bowel control particularly hard. It is important at this stage not to be embarrassed but to seek help as there are an array of treatments that control the bowel.

There are many ways in which you can treat urinary incontinence which include: reducing caffeine intake, changing your fluid intake, losing weight, pelvic floor muscle training, medications and even bladder control training. You should contact your GP if you have any concerns over your bowel movements.

Swallowing Problems:

It is the unfortunate reality that strokes can interrupt the normal swallowing reflex. This actually makes it possible for food particles to enter the respiratory system which can lead to damaged lungs and sometimes pneumonia. A short term solution for this is to have a feeding tube to eat in the preliminary stages of recovery.

In the longer term, very much like having communication problems, you will need to see a language specialist a few times a week to overcome the swallowing problem. Within this treatment, you will be given advice on anything from in taking smaller foods to tips on how to improve posture. Additionally you should also receive help on controlling the muscles involved in swallowing.

How do I prevent further strokes?

There’s no direct science on how to prevent a second or even a third stroke and the chances of having a reoccurring stroke significantly increases once you’ve had one. However, the most effective way to try and combat this is by having long term support and recovery.

Furthermore, it is also crucial to try and tackle any underlying health conditions that tyou might have which can be a catalyst for offsetting another stroke. For example you may need medication for blood pressure, cholesterol or to reduce your chances of having a blood clot.

Finally, a sure fire way to prevent the chances of another stroke is to make positive lifestyle choices. Therefore, having a balanced diet, exercising regularly, reducing or stopping your alcohol and cigarette intake and simply getting moving will all contribute to work towards combating a further stroke.