A stroke is a brain injury where the blood supply is blocked and the outcome is usually dramatic. Stroke recovery at home will normally begin following the hospital and rehab stay. When you can return home after suffering a stoke depends on your ability to take care of yourself, how much assistance you will have at home, and if the home is a safe place for your recovery.
Your ability to get better after a stroke depend on the side of the brain that was affected (dominant vs non-dominant side), the part of the brain that was damaged, how much of the brain was damaged, and your overall health condition before the stroke. Control over speech, movement, mental and body functions can be impaired and you many need to relearn how to manage many daily activities. Home care assistance as you regain strength and confidence is nearly always required by a caregiver, family member, therapist or other medical professionals.
The good news is that there are activities that caregivers and family members can encourage the person that is recovering to engage in that will shorten the recovery time and maximize outcomes.
Aerobic Activity -This includes basic exercises such as walking, riding an exercise bicycle, using arms and legs to move in a sweeping or range of motion movement. These exercises should be performed daily for a minimum of 20 minutes and are extremely beneficial in recovery even if the activity starts long after the stroke occurred.
Flexibility Training - Persons recovering from a stroke should incorporate stretching exercises into their regiment to prevent tightening of the muscles. Caregivers can assist by providing the stretching tension that the individual may not be able to provide on their own. Stretching activity should be performed 3-4 days per week and each stretch should be held for 30 seconds.
Strength Endurance - Resistance with elastic bands, free weights or a exercise machine is a great way to increase strength and enable the person recovering from a stroke to increase and resume daily activities. These exercises should be performed 2-3 times a week. Caregivers can play an integral role in the strength training by providing encouragement and helping to ensure safety.
Neuromuscular Training - This exercise helps develop fine motor skills, balance and coordination - abilities often diminish as a result of a stroke. The key is to maintain balance while performing specific movement; standing on one leg, manipulating small objects with the hands or working with an exercise ball. Assistance from a caregiver is needed to prevent injury and provide emotional support.
Preparing the home for safety -Changes may be needed to prevent falls and make the home easier to use. Here are safety issues to consider:
The bedroom and bathroom should be easily accessible within a close proximity to each other.
Items that may cause a fall such as rugs should be removed.
Purchase devices that help with activities such as cooking eating, bathing, showering, mobility, dressing, toilet needs, and writing.
Doorways should have a 32 inch clearance to accommodate a wheel chair.
Lever door handles are more easy to open than a regular door knob look at replacing door knobs with the lever device.
The bathroom can be one of the most dangerous places in the home. The bathroom should include a shower chair and or transfer tub bench, grab bars, raised toilet seat with safety bars, a hand held shower head, and consider removing the shower door and replacing it with a shower curtain. It is also a good idea to leave the bathroom light on at night.
Avoid clothing that may be difficult to get on and off. Avoid tight-fitting sleeves, armholes, pant legs and clothing that must be put on over the head. Wear non- skid shoes for mobility safety.
If stairs are unavoidable install a stair lift. Place handrails or grab bars in key areas of the home and add a ramp for ease of ability to enter and exit.
Keep pathways clear of clutter.
Drinking can be made easier using a cup with a lid and straw.
Utilize specialized eating utensils such as swivel forks and spoons to keep food in the same position while the handle moves. If there is difficulty holding a utensil you can use a universal cuff utensil. A plate guard is a good idea to keep the food on the plate by eliminating plate movement.
Use a wearable call button.
After a stroke speaking and communicating may be an obstacle. There may be difficulty finding a word or being able to speak more than one word or phrase at a time. You may be able to put many words together but they may not make sense. It is easy to get frustrated when realizing that others cannot understand what you are communicating. It can take up to 2 years to recover speech. A stroke can damage the muscles that help you speak. As a result, these muscles do not move the right way when you try to speak. A speech and language therapist can work with you to learn new ways to communicate.
Physical therapists, occupational therapists, and rehabilitation doctors will help your relearn daily activities and independence in recovery. Always consult and follow the plan outlined for you by your physician.
For more information go to: www.stroke.org
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