Dr. MJ Bazos MD,
What is a
Most strokes happen when blood can't reach a
part of your brain. When blood flow to the brain stops, brain cells in that part
of the brain may die. Your brain controls how you move, feel, think and behave.
A stroke may damage any of these functions.
What are some of the effects of a
The following are the most common effects of
- Weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
- Problems with speech and language
- Poor balance or clumsy movement
- Not knowing what happens on one side of the body
- Trouble swallowing
- Problems with bladder or bowel control
- Problems with memory, thinking or problem solving
- Poor vision and/or changes in vision
- Problems getting around and caring for yourself
What is stroke
Stroke rehabilitation is a very important part
of recovery for many people who have had a stroke. It helps build your strength,
coordination, endurance and confidence. In stroke rehabilitation, you may learn
how to move, talk, think and care for yourself. The goal of stroke
rehabilitation is to help you learn how to do things that you did before the
Your doctor will be able to determine whether
you need stroke rehabilitation and, if so, what kind of rehabilitation would
help you. Most people who have had a stroke do get better. How fast and how much
you improve depends on how bad your stroke was. Rehabilitation can begin right
after the stroke is over and your condition is stable. Some improvements occur
by themselves as the brain is healing.
After I have had a stroke, am I more
likely to have another one?
Yes. People who have had a stroke are at
increased risk of having another stroke, especially during the first year after
the first stroke.
What can be done to reduce my risk
of another stroke?
Your risk of another stroke is higher if you are
older, if you smoke cigarettes or if you drink a lot of alcohol. The risk is
also increased if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or
are obese. Your risk is also increased if you have heart failure or a transient
ischemic attack (sometimes called a TIA or a mini-stroke).
You can lower your risk for another stroke by
having regular check-ups. Your doctor can work with you to improve your health.
If you are a smoker, stop smoking. Control your blood pressure, and enjoy
regular physical activity.
What about depression after a
Emotional changes may occur from stroke because
of brain injury and loss of function. After a stroke, your moods may go up and
down more quickly than before, or you may become depressed. You may suddenly
start crying and then quickly stop, or you may start laughing for no reason.
Soon after the stroke, you may find it difficult
to control your emotions. Usually this gets better over time. It is
understandable if you feel depressed, sad or frustrated. These feelings are a
part of getting used to the changes brought on by the stroke. Emotional
reactions and depression are common after a stroke, but they can be treated.
Talk to your doctor about being depressed and sad.
What about driving a car again after
Driving gives a feeling of independence, and you
may want to drive after your stroke. However, a stroke can affect your mobility,
vision, thinking and communication skills. Your reaction time may also be
slowed. Think carefully about how these changes may affect your own safety and
the safety of others. Your doctor can help you decide when and if it is safe for
you to drive after the stroke.
Call your state department of motor vehicles and
ask what rules apply to people who have had a stroke. You may receive a driver
assessment, classroom instruction and suggestions for modifying your vehicle.
Driver training programs are often available through rehabilitation centers.
If you can't drive, try to take comfort in the
fact that you have made the responsible choice for your safety and the safety of
others. There are other forms of transportation, including public
transportation, specialized vans, taxis and rides from friends and family. Check
on community resources, such as senior citizen groups and local volunteer
What can relatives do to help their
loved one recover from a stroke?
If you are a relative of someone who has had a
stroke, you should encourage and support him or her. Visit your loved one in the
hospital or rehabilitation center. If he or she has trouble talking, ask the
speech therapist how you can help. You can relax with your family member while
playing cards, watching television, listening to the radio or playing a board
Some places offer classes for stroke survivors
and their families. Ask if you can go to some rehabilitation sessions. This is a
good way to learn how rehabilitation works and how to help your loved one get
Encourage and help your family member practice
the skills learned in rehabilitation. Make sure that the rehabilitation staff
suggest activities that fit your loved one's needs and interests. Find out what
he or she can do alone, what he or she can do with help, and what he or she
can't do at all. Avoid doing things for your family member that he or she is
able to do alone. Confidence will grow with each task he or she does without
Ask your loved one's doctor and the
rehabilitation staff to meet with you and your family so that everyone can ask
questions and find out how your loved one is doing. In addition, take care of
yourself by eating well, getting enough rest and taking time to do things that