The outlook for stroke patients has never been more hopeful thanks to tremendous advances in stroke treatment and increasingly sophisticated rehabilitation techniques. This section discusses:
The ultimate goal of rehabilitation is to return the patient to as independent a lifestyle as possible. Successful stroke rehabilitation depends on many factors, including the severity of brain damage and the support of family and friends. Not surprisingly, a positive outlook and degree of determination also are key factors in the speed of recovery.
Patients with mild strokes or those who obtained prompt medical treatment may need little or no rehabilitation. Depending on the area of the brain affected by the stroke and the extent of the damage, physical and mental deficits may range from mild to severe.
After a stroke, other blood vessels may be able to take over for the damaged ones. This allows some brain cells to recover, although others may still die. This means that even without rehabilitation, brain function often will improve somewhat. Most stroke patients, however, will benefit from some type of rehabilitation. Even though rehabilitation does not "cure" a stroke in that it does not directly heal a damaged brain, it usually helps people achieve the best possible long-term outcome.
Different areas of the brain control different bodily functions. When certain areas are damaged by stroke, the functioning of the parts of the body controlled by those areas is impaired. For instance, if the left hemisphere of the brain is damaged, most of the effects will occur on the right side of the body. It's also important to note that areas of the brain that were not damaged will continue to function normally.
Some of the most common results of a stroke are hemiparesis (paralysis on one side of the body), aphasia (inability to speak or to understand language), learning difficulties, memory loss, behavioral/emotional changes, and loss of motor skills.
Many patients and their families benefit from support groups. Participants have the opportunity to increase their knowledge of diagnostic and treatment options and to develop problem-solving and coping skills. The support group is intended to be a forum where patients and their families can share experiences and concerns about rehabilitation, depression, and other daily issues. Ask your physician for information.
Last reviewed on 09/15/2005
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