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From there, you may go to an in-patient rehab facility where you will receive intensive therapy to help you become more independent. Once you are able to return home, you may receive outpatient therapy or home therapy to help you recover as much as possible.

Formal rehabilitation takes place for about three to six months. But studies have shown that stroke patients who continue to practice the skills they learned in rehabilitation continue to see progress long after a stroke has occurred.

4. How long will my recovery from stroke take?

Stroke recovery is different for every patient. Although some people with a mild stroke recover quickly, for most stroke survivors, recovery is a lifelong process.

"While the biggest gains will be made in the first three months after a stroke, patients can continue to recover  ... even years later," Black-Schaffer says. "The key is to get into a daily pattern of exercise." 

5. Am I at risk for depression after a stroke?

Becoming depressed after a stroke is very common. So ask your doctor about the symptoms of depression so that you and your caregivers know what to look for. Post-stroke depression is thought to be caused in part by biochemical changes in the brain. It's also a completely normal reaction to the losses caused by a stroke. Whatever the reason, treatment is essential. Fortunately, depression can be effectively treated with medication and/or counseling. 

6. What medications will I be taking and do they have any side effects?

Strokes are most often caused by blood clots, so your doctor will probably prescribe anticoagulant or antiplatelet medication, commonly known as blood thinners, to help prevent future strokes. You may also need to take medications to help lower high blood pressure or high cholesterol, treat a heart condition, or manage diabetes.

Be sure to talk with your doctor about your medications so that you understand why you are taking them. Ask about potential side effects and possible food and medicine interactions. To help you keep track, you or your caregiver should write down the name and dose of all your medications, including when and how to take them.   

7. When should I call my doctor?

Talk with your doctor about what symptoms or situations may indicate a call. However, if you notice any of the following signs of stroke, call 911 immediately. Don't delay -- minutes count when it comes to preventing damage from stroke.

  • sudden numbness, paralysis, or weakness, especially on only one side of your body
  • sudden dizziness, problems with walking, or loss of balance or coordination
  • sudden changes in vision
  • drooling or slurred speech
  • sudden confusion or difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • a sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches or has no known cause 

Recovery Tips

See key ways to help regain the use of your arm after a stroke.
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