The process of stroke recovery is a long one. It takes hard work and dedication to regain full function. There are no quick-fixes that can make stroke recovery happen overnight; however, certain strategies can help you speed up the process. Curious? Below, we offer a few ways to rise above stroke-driven challenges and fasten the stroke recovery.
- Focus on a reason for stroke recovery (such as getting back to work, being able to peruse things you enjoy) and to associate it with your plan of action. This will give you motivational support at all times.
- Exercise regularly. To maintain that, set specific and meaningful goals to keep you focused. Take a sheet of paper and write down 3 or more concrete goals (and deadlines to achieve them by), the consequences of not achieving them and the desired benefit/outcome.
- Start with passive exercises to rewire the brain and fasten the recovery. This simply means using your non-affected muscles to move your affected muscles. Though you are not “doing it on your own”, you are still rewiring your brain.
- Include additional arm support during rehab exercises to avoid the arms becoming weaker due to learned non-use*.
- Consistently repeat the exercises and stretches to strengthen the brain-muscle connections. This will activate neuroplasticity to the maximum, and you will see results faster.
- Be proactive about working around fatigue, which can drain you physically and mentally. Take time to squeeze in a nap or rest as often as possible to combat the constant drowsiness and return to pre-stroke energy levels.
- To combat foot drop after stroke, use assistive equipment (such as foot drop brace) as an aid in rehabilitation. Low-impact strength and stretching leg exercises are good complement to use.
- If stroke has left you with “curled toes”, regain strength and movement with a variety of exercises. Include toe taps, floor grips, finger squeezes, and toe-extensor strengthening to make a huge difference in stroke recovery.
- Mirror therapy gives neuroplasticity a boost. Place a mirror over your paralyzed limb to ‘trick’ your brain into thinking that you’re moving your affected muscles when it’s merely just a reflection.
- Visualize your paralyzed muscles moving – again a great way to activate neuroplasticity. This works in your favor when you combine mental practice with physical practice. Spend time both visualizing your arm moving and doing passive arm exercises (to regain movement in a paralyzed arm).
- Stay stress free whenever possible. When stress begins to take hold, cortisol (a hormone) floods the body, causing pH levels to become imbalanced with acidity. This can ultimately weaken your immune system. Eating a natural probiotic like yogurt, practicing yoga and deep breathing can limit cortisol levels, sustaining your body for speedy stroke recovery.
- Depression after stroke often slows the recovery process and sometimes intervenes as a roadblock. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing any symptoms, to get them treated with prescription antidepressants or therapy. Eat healthy food for improved mental health.
- Watch out for the recovery plateau stage. Here are 6 ways to get past Plateau after stroke.
- Understand and combat memory loss after stroke. Incorporate technology into daily rehab exercises to show quick improvements. Use smartphones to set reminders, schedule appointments, and overseeing your functional performance.
- Sleep at least 7 hours a night, and more when you need it. It will help you fasten movement recovery by turning the short-term memory from the day’s rehab exercises into long-term memory.
* A tendency to prefer using strong arm because it is easier to move
This Blog is contributed by Dr. Deepak Kr. Nain. He is a certified therapist who specializes in the field of rehabilitation. Deepak possesses a clinical expertise in prescribing the best solutions to help people with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Stroke, Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS).