Stroke

It can take time to recover from a stroke. Each person's experience with stroke is different, and your own recovery journey can be hard to predict.

For many people, recovery is most rapid during the first six months after a stroke. However, recovery can go on for years. Your rehabilitation program can make a big difference to the speed of your recovery and improvement in function.

Lower limb function

After a stroke you may experience:

  • Weakness or paralysis
  • Numbness, pins and needles, hypersensitivity
  • Coordination or balance difficulties
  • Swelling of the legs
  • Contracture (shortening of the muscles, causing the joint to be fixed in one position)
  • Changes in muscle tone

MSWA's physiotherapists specialise in rehabilitation programs for people with neurological conditions including stroke. They can tailor a program to help you regain your function in your lower limbs.

Upper limb function

From making a 'cuppa' to writing and getting dressed, loss of function in your arms can make a big difference to your independence. Chances are only one side of your body is affected. You may experience a range of symptoms such as:

  • Weakness or paralysis
  • Numbness, pins and needles, hypersensitivity
  • Coordination of arm movement
  • Swelling
  • Changes in muscle tone
  • Dislocation of shoulder joint due to weakness
  • Contracture (shortening of the muscles, causing the joint to be fixed in one position)

An MSWA our occupational therapists can help you manage your day-to-day activities. Help is available in the form of special aids and household equipment and techniques for performing everyday tasks safely and comfortably.

Our physiotherapists can design an exercise and treatment program to help you regain or improve your arm function.

Thinking and perception

Some effects of a stroke are about the way you think and perceive what's going on around you. These effects are invisible, but they matter with regards to your ability to function and lead a normal life. After a stroke you may experience:

  • Confusion - not being able to recognise your surroundings and people
  • Loss of short-term memory
  • Poor attention span
  • Difficulty solving problems and making decisions
  • Difficulty planning and performing tasks
  • Poor judgement, loss of insight

Fortunately, medical science now has a greater understanding of the brain. Exciting research has shown that the brain can regain function after a stroke. A new field of medicine called neuroplasticity focus on the processes that enable a brain to change in response to stimuli and training.

Our occupational therapists can suggest techniques and tools to help you keep organised and in control of the many functions of everyday living.

Emotions after a stroke

It's common to experience sudden mood swings after a stroke. You may over-react to situations or respond in inappropriate ways. Certain situations can trigger these mood swings, and it's helpful to understand the risk factors. You may be over-tired, stressed or in a noisy, chaotic environment. The better you understand these triggers and their effects, the better you can manage your routine to keep you calm and in control.

MSWA's counsellors provide stress management support and help you deal with the many feelings and thoughts that can occur as your navigate the challenging process of recovering from a stroke.

Driving after a stroke

You should not drive a car for at least two weeks after a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or four weeks after a stroke.

You will need to obtain medical clearance to return to driving. Discuss your return to driving with your GP or neurologist.

Eating and drinking after a stroke

It's important to follow a nutritional diet after a stroke. However, some people experience difficulty in swallowing and it may be necessary to adjust the consistency of your food and drinks. An MSWA speech pathology/dietetics team can assess your swallowing and recommend ways to help you eat and drink safely.

If you've lost upper limb function, you may need help with feeding or special utensils. MSWA's occupational therapists can make an assessment and recommend the most appropriate aids to make mealtimes more enjoyable.

Travelling after a stroke

It's a good idea to check with your GP or neurologist before you plan a trip. After a stroke you may be at increased risk of developing a deep vein thrombosis (DVT - also known as a blood clot).

Other issues such as your mobility, reliance on equipment and medication need to be carefully assessed and planned for before you take off. It's also important to purchase travel insurance in case you fall ill while away.

You will need to declare your stroke as a pre-existing medical condition and this may impact on premiums and ability to obtain coverage.

Living well after a stroke

Discuss your symptoms and difficulties with your neurologist and be clear about your goals for regaining your function. They will be able to recommend treatments and strategies to help you cope with the after-effects of a stroke and support your recovery.

MSWA is here for you and we can also help you with your stroke recovery journey in a myriad of ways.