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How to Help a Loved One Recover from Stroke

A stroke is a medical emergency which occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced by a blockage or bleed of the blood vessels. When this happens, the brain does not receive enough oxygen and nutrients, and brain cells begin to die in minutes.

There are three main types of stroke:

Ischemic stroke: This occurs when a blood clot prevents blood and oxygen from reaching an area of the brain. This is the most common type of stroke, making up 85% of all cases.

Haemorrhagic stroke: This occurs when a blood vessel ruptures. These are usually the result of aneurysms or arteriovenous malformations (AVMs).

Transient ischemic attack (TIA): This occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is inadequate for a brief period of time. Normal blood flow resumes after a short amount of time, and the symptoms resolve without treatment. Some people call this a ministroke.

The chances of a second stroke occurring within the first 5 years after a stroke increases in survivors. However, these can be prevented by lifestyle changes and medical treatment

Recovering from a stroke is a difficult and time taking process that puts strain on a person, both physically and emotionally. Recovery time after a stroke is different for everyone—it can take weeks, months, or even years. Some people recover fully, but others have lifelong disabilities. Because no two people are exactly alike, no two strokes will be the same. Your loved one’s experience will be unique, and they will not have the same stroke side effects as someone else.

Having the support of a loved one providing mental and physical support is a crucial part of the recovery process. Here are a few ways that you can help a friend or loved one who is in the process of stroke recovery.

  1. Understand the invisible symptoms of stroke

Learning the various cognitive side effects of stroke can help you understand the behaviours of someone who has had a stroke and help you manage their condition better. Unlike the physical symptoms such as paralysis (or numbness of the face, arm or leg), slurred speech or difficulty in communication, many other stroke symptoms are not as easily recognized. As a result, it can be tempting to think the person is fine when in fact they are not. Mental symptoms such as fatigue, depression, anxiety, and attention deficits are all effects of stroke that can manifest in subtle ways.

  • Encourage Rehab Exercises

Rehabilitation is an important and ongoing part of stroke treatment. With the right assistance and the support of loved ones, regaining a normal quality of life is usually possible for stroke survivors. It is important that you take interest in participating in rehabilitation exercises of your loved one who has had stroke in order to encourage them to relearn speech, movement and coordination skills they may have lost because of the stroke. Rehabilitation exercises includes:

Speech therapy: This helps with problems producing or understanding speech. Practice, relaxation, and changing communication style can all make communicating easier.

Physical therapy: This can help a person relearn movement and coordination. It is important to stay active, even though this may be difficult at first.

Occupational therapy: This can help a person improve their ability to carry out daily activities, such as bathing, cooking, dressing, eating, reading, and writing.

Ensure a healthy diet

Ensure the stroke survivor eats a nutritious diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes. A diet containing five or more daily servings of fruits or vegetables may reduce your risk of stroke. Be sure to limit the amount of red and processed meat in their diet, as well as cholesterol and saturated fats. Also, moderate salt intake to support healthy blood pressure levels.

Lifestyle Changes

Encourage survivors to quit tobacco use. Smoking raises the risk of a second stroke for survivors. Quitting tobacco use reduces the risk of secondary stroke.

Drinking alcohol in moderation, if at all. Heavy alcohol consumption increases the risk of high blood pressure, ischemic strokes and haemorrhagic strokes. Alcohol may also interact with other drugs used in the treatment of stroke. However, drinking small to moderate amounts of alcohol, such as one drink a day, may help prevent ischemic stroke and decrease a person’s blood clotting tendency.

Avoiding hard drugs. Certain illegal drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine, are established risk factors for a TIA or a stroke.

Maintaining a healthy weight. Being overweight contributes to other stroke risk factors, such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Preventive medications

People who have had an ischemic stroke or TIA, may need medications to help reduce your risk of having another stroke. These include:

Anti-platelet drugs. Platelets are cells in the blood that form clots. Anti-platelet drugs make these cells less sticky and less likely to clot. The most commonly used anti-platelet medication is aspirin.

Anticoagulants. These drugs reduce blood clotting. Heparin is fast acting and may be used short-term in the hospital. Slower-acting warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) may be used over a longer term. Warfarin is a powerful blood-thinning drug, so stroke patients will need to take it exactly as directed by a physician and watch for side effects. You’ll also need to have regular blood tests to monitor warfarin’s effects.

Supplements. Nutritional supplements like Immunozin Capsules have been proven to be beneficial in stroke recovery. Immunozin capsules aids in recovery from stroke or paralysis by increasing nutrient and oxygen perfusion through the blood to the brain tissue.

Stop depression before it hinders recovery. Post-stroke depression is common, with as many as 30-50 percent of stroke survivors depressed in the early or later phases of post-stroke. Post-stroke depression can significantly affect your loved one’s recovery and rehabilitation. It is important you provide emotional support and encourage to a loved one who is recovering form stroke as it will determine how quick the recovery process takes.

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