How Long is Stroke Recovery?

The stroke recovery process occurs in stages.
A diagram of an ischemic stroke and a hemorrhagic stroke.
The human brain, including blood vessels that can be involved in a stroke.
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  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2014
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Stroke recovery occurs in two stages. The first stage is acute recovery, and the second is long-term rehabilitation. Each stage is an important part of the stroke recovery process, and working hard through the entire process ensures the best chance of regaining skills damaged during the stroke. The length of time that it takes to recover from a stroke depends on the extent of the damage by the stroke, the skill of the rehabilitation team and the willingness of the stroke victim and family to work on rehabilitation.

During the initial, acute recovery stage the rehabilitation team will encourage the stroke victim to move as much as possible. They will engage in what is known as passive movement. During passive movement, a therapist or nurse physically moves body parts that the stroke patient is unable to move on their own. If speech was affected by the stroke, speech therapy will also begin very early on. This rehabilitation begins as soon as the patient is stabilized from the stroke, ideally within 24 hours.

The second phase of stroke recovery involves intensive therapy. This therapy can last for weeks, months or years. During the initial days of therapy, the improvements to a patient typically occur rapidly. This rapid improvement provides the patient incentive to continue with his stroke recovery program.

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Eventually the progress slows, and the stroke patient may become frustrated. It is important that the stroke recovery program continue. Although progress will slow, it will continue. 10% of stroke victims will recover almost completely. An additional 25% will recover with only minor physical or mental impairments.

To become one of the 35% of people who is able to regain a good portion of their life after suffering from a stroke, it is important to continue with all prescribed therapy. Physical and occupational therapists will help the stroke patient regain as much mobility as possible, and then show them how to compensate for any lost skills. A speech therapist works to help the patient regain as much speech as possible, and then refine those skills so that they can communicate with others.

If insurance stops paying for stroke recovery, or the rehabilitation team deems it nonproductive to continue, the stroke patient can continue to work on their own. Nearly all rehabilitation efforts focus on the directed and highly focused practice of skills. The key to regaining lost skills is repetition. Endless repetitions of lost skills will eventually help the brain rewire itself so that the function can become automatic.

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anon963441
Post 10

Last year I had a stroke in the right rear side of my brain. Then, over the next week I had four strokes in my vertebrae, I woke up at 2 a.m. and couldn't move from the neck down. I was flown to a hospital in Washington and they said I may never walk again.

I told them (the doctor) I wasn't going to listen to them and that I wasn't going to lie in a bed for the next 20 to 30 years then die. Today I am walking again. The only trouble I have is with my left side of my body, I can't use my hand very well and I have a lot of tone and spasticity on the left side.

I am slowly getting better and have wonderful friends and family who help me. So don't give up, no matter what. You can recover.

anon954970
Post 9

I had my strokes several years ago, but I still have a caregiver living here and am on medication. When does the caregiver leave and the need for medication stop?

anon331052
Post 8

My father is 94 and will be 95 in July 2013. Before his stroke in May of 2012, he was in excellent shape. He was in the physical shape of a man in his 60's, according to the doctors. He was doing the treadmill for a half hour a day until about a year or so before his stroke. He'd had a cardiovascular aneurysm, I think it's called, and had been released a month before his stroke and was still partially recovering.

Even though he's in a wheelchair and can't speak intelligibly, and it seems as though the stroke hasn't affected his memorym or at least to a degree where we can see it yet. A year ago he was drooling, being fed totally through a tube, couldn't eat, drink and only repeat baby talk over and over (daba daba daba, etc.). In the past four months, he's gotten so he's not drooling, can eat vanilla wafers and anything that's soft, and he can drink now four ounces of water at a time.

He rolls himself around the nursing home (in the wheelchair) and is involved with voice and physical therapy (exercise). He's also standing to pee now instead of having to use the attachment. His speech has improved but we still don't understand much at all. He can print some words also using his left hand (he's right handed) so he's learning to use the left.

Considering that a year ago he could do none of these things, my mother and I feel very positive about all these things, partly considering his age. We were told at the nursing home however, that he cannot come home until he's walking again. He can walk with a walker for a short while, as last time he visited, he grabbed my mom's walker and walked through the entire apartment, slowly but surely. It was amazing, but apparently this isn't enough in their opinion. Why would it matter if he was at home but isolated to his wheelchair? Isn't that normal for many stroke patients?

We know that they still feed him from a tube three times a day (vitamins and nutrients I believe). Is it possible for my mother to learn to take care of him at home or for him to have a nurse take care of him? My mother feels as though the nursing home may be trying to keep him there (they're getting a king's ransom every month, trust me). My father is very alert and to look at him, it's easy to picture him sitting at home on the couch as if this never happened. He looks that good! We want him back so much!

anon283531
Post 7

I am a keen sportsman (running and rugby mainly)

I suffered a series of mild ischemic strokes June 2011 which resulted in sensory loss on the right side. Apart from the sensory loss, my only problem was tiredness.

I am now finding that my efforts to regain fitness with running seem to be stuck in a non-responsive rut, i.e., I have been trying to train for months but can see absolutely no improvement in my fitness levels either in terms of speed or distance. This is very frustrating as I seem to be putting in a lot of effort with no gain following. Is there a stroke related reason for this?

anon255447
Post 6

Please, as a stroke victim, I am posting this. I have had more than one person talk to me with slurred like speech, or broken English, as if I would better understand them that way. Hello! I am not speaking some kind of new English. I am only attempting to communicate the best way I can.

I can understand what is spoken to me. I can't speak to you clearly. Please don't speak to a stroke victim in baby talk or slurred English. My Lord, what is wrong with some people?

snickerish
Post 5

As a speech therapist, I truly appreciate how this article pointed out the need for speech therapy. And when many people think about speech therapy they think about people learning to talk better.

However, I felt it is important to help people who have had loved ones going through a stroke to understand that not only might their loved ones have to learn how to talk more clearly but they might also have to learn how to understand language again.

There are 3 different types of ways that speech can be affected. One way speech can be affected is someone not being able to express language via talking, and another way their speech can be affected is by a decrease in their ability to understand the language that other people are saying, and the last way being a mixture of the two.

In some ways the most dangerous speech difficulty is the one in which people are having difficulty understanding the language that other people are saying (comprehension) because in casual conversation these people can often seem okay.

So if someone you love has experienced a stroke be on the lookout for comprehension difficulties because speech therapy can help!

animegal
Post 4

@drtroubles - If you want to help your grandfather recover from his stroke make sure that he has the right doctors and rehabilitation team to start out with. As for the family, you can focus on keeping him company and making sure he gets the food he needs and that he does his exercises.

We helped our aunt when she was going through her brain stem stroke recovery and we found that buying her a Nintendo Wii with the motion controllers did wonders for her. While she couldn't play normal sports, the small motions required to play virtual golf really helped her move again. While this may not be an option right away, it is something to consider.

drtroubles
Post 3

What can you do to help someone who must go through hemorrhagic stroke recovery?

My grandfather has just returned home and we've been told that it will take a long time to go through the stages of stroke recovery with him. We really want to be supportive and make his return home as easy as possible.

How can we make a stroke victim's recovery easier? Is there anything we can buy that might help my grandfather through a difficult time?

Right now my grandpa has very limited mobility and has difficulty speaking. We really want to make sure he can communicate with us.

letshearit
Post 2

My mother had a minor stroke a few years back and even though it was no where as bad as it could have been, she still had to do stroke recovery exercises and focus on her post stroke recovery. She is quite the fighter and found it a real challenge to get back to a place where she could move normally.

I think that recovery from stroke is a bit different for everyone. For my mom, she took a good 3 months of stroke recovery treatment to feel back to her old self. This was a blessing though, as I know that those dealing with massive stroke recovery can lose years of their life to make progress, if they ever really get better.

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