Any stroke affects the brain directly and, because the brain controls all our actions, it inevitably affects other parts of the body indirectly. For example, if it strikes that part of the brain that controls speech, then it may also affect your ability to talk. If it strikes that part of the brain that controls the movements on the right side of your body, then you may lose some mobility in your right arm or leg. Other strokes can negatively affect sight, hearing, memory, and so on.
It’s natural for stroke victims to worry that whatever condition they find themselves in immediately after a stroke is how they will be for the rest of their lives, but that’s just not true. Your medical team‘s goal will be to have you regain the use of any affected part of your body. So once you have been stabilized and your condition has been evaluated, they will begin laying out a course of rehabilitation or rehab. They want you to get back as close to normal as you can and if 100% recovery isn’t possible, to have you learn how to function as independently as you can with your new normal.
There’s one other important aspect to your recovery. Your medical team doesn’t want you to undergo another stroke in the future. So they will work with you to make any changes in your day-to-day lifestyle that might help you avoid another stroke. That may involve a medical intervention (e.g., steps to lower your blood pressure) or a change in your daily routine (e.g., giving up smoking).
What You Will Do in Rehab
Rehab can be a little like going back to school, because you may have to learn all over again to perform actions that you’ve been doing on auto-pilot for most of your life. Depending upon how the stroke affected you, you may need help with any of the following:
• Simple everyday tasks like getting dressed, eating a meal and bathing
• Ordinary physical actions like standing up, walking or moving about with a walker, a cane or a wheelchair
• Rehabbing your intellect by doing exercises to improve your memory, your problem-solving ability, and other functions of the brain
• Overcoming any impairment the stroke may have caused in your capacity to speak
• Psychological treatment if the stroke has caused you to suffer from depression, anxiety, apathy or any other emotional malady
• Relearning ordinary social skills so you can function naturally with family, friends and others