World Stroke Day is celebrated annually on October 29 to spread awareness around symptoms of stroke and ways to prevent the condition. During a stroke, one may feel numbness, confusion, speech difficulties, dizziness, and severe headaches. A medical emergency, stroke demands an urgent action to minimise damage and improve chances of recovery. Stroke can leave long lasting impacts on the body be it muscle weakness, paralysis, stiffness, or changes in sensation, usually on one side of your body. In India, stroke is a significant health concern, ranking fourth in mortality and fifth in disability due to an aging population and lifestyle factors. Cases of stroke are on rise worldwide and the health condition may be responsible for 10 million deaths by 2050. (Also read | World Stroke Day 2023: Date, history, significance, theme and everything you need to know about this day)
Stroke occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced and the brain tissue doesn’t get blood and oxygen. A stroke disrupts blood flow to the brain, causing immediate damage to brain cells.
“Swift treatment is imperative to restore blood flow to the brain, involving emergency medications, endovascular procedures, or surgery. Certain strokes can be treated with clot-dissolving medications or procedures like thrombectomy, which significantly reduce brain damage. Notably, the post-stroke period is vital for recovery and rehabilitation. With the right support and approach, many survivors can regain independence and enhance their quality of life,” says Dr. Vinay Goyal, Chairman – Neurology (Movement Disorder)Institute of Neurosciences, Medanta, Gurugram in an interview with HT Digital.
Dr Goyal shares recovery tips and measures to improve quality of life after stroke.
1. Adopt a healthy lifestyle
In the first three post-stroke months, the risk of a second stroke rises 15-fold. Staying vigilant for signs like facial drooping, arm weakness, slurred speech, vertigo, sudden dizziness, vision changes, or severe headaches is vital for prompt action in case of recurrence. Embracing a healthy lifestyle is key to stroke recovery and prevention.
Consume a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats, limiting salt, sugar, and saturated fats to lower the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol. Engage in regular exercise recommended by your healthcare provider to improve cardiovascular health and support recovery. Manage stress through relaxation techniques or mindfulness. Additionally, adequate sleep is crucial for recovery, aiding the body’s natural healing processes.
2. Medication management
Stroke survivors often require medications to manage underlying conditions and reduce the risk of future strokes. These may include blood thinners to prevent blood clots, antihypertensives to control high blood pressure, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and more. Regular follow-ups with healthcare providers are essential to monitor the effectiveness of medications and make necessary adjustments.
3. Follow a rehabilitation plan
Rehabilitation plays a pivotal role in stroke recovery, offering a personalized program designed to help survivors regain strength, mobility, and independence. Typically encompassing physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy, rehabilitation retrains the body and mind for everyday activities and effective communication. Close collaboration between stroke survivors, their families, and healthcare professionals is crucial for creating a tailored rehabilitation plan that aligns with individual needs and goals.
4. Build a support system
The road to recovery after a stroke can be challenging, and having a strong support system is invaluable. Family, friends, and support groups can provide emotional support, encouragement, and assistance with daily activities. Moreover, support groups offer the opportunity to share experiences, learn from others, and receive guidance on navigating the challenges of stroke recovery. Connecting with others who have faced similar struggles can be empowering and provide a sense of community.
5. Stay positive and patient
Recovery after a stroke often involves setbacks and frustrations. Maintaining a positive attitude and exercising patience are essential. Progress may be gradual, but it’s crucial not to get discouraged by the pace of recovery. In addition to a positive mindset, staying educated about stroke and the recovery process is vital. Understanding what to expect and how to adapt to new challenges can make the journey less intimidating.
If you or a loved one is on the path to stroke recovery, remember that every small step forward is a significant achievement. By following these tips and working closely with healthcare professionals, you can make meaningful progress toward a brighter and more fulfilling future.