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Stroke Rehabilitation - Topic Overview

What kinds of problems can people have after a stroke?

The problems you have after a stroke depend on what part of your brain was affected and how much damage the stroke caused. People who have had a stroke often have:

  • Problems with movement and sensation. You may have pain, numbness, or tingling in your arms and legs; muscle stiffness or spasms; weakness; and trouble with walking and moving. You may have problems with your sense of touch or how well you feel hot and cold, trouble swallowing and eating, and urinary or bowel problems.
  • Problems with vision. You may have problems seeing in some or all of the normal areas of vision.
  • Problems with not being aware of one side of your body. If you don't look to that side, you may forget or ignore that side of your body.
  • Problems with language and thinking. You may not be able to understand written or spoken language, read or write, or express your thoughts. You may also have problems with memory and learning.
  • Emotional problems. A stroke can cause feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, and grief, both for survivors of a stroke and their loved ones.

Does a stroke cause permanent problems?

A stroke damages parts of the brain that control different things in the body, such as speech and movement. But other parts of the brain can take over for the damaged areas. Many people are able to get back most of the skills and abilities they lost.

Some people do have permanent problems after a stroke. But more than half of people who have a stroke regain their ability to take care of themselves.1

How long does rehab take?

For most people, rehab is a lifelong process. The road to recovery can be long and frustrating, so keeping a positive outlook is key. Try everything you can to get better, and get relief from pain if you need to. Your stroke rehab team is there to help in as many ways as it can. A strong support network of family and friends is also very important.

You may recover the most in the first few weeks or months after your stroke. But you can keep getting better for years. It just may happen more slowly. And it may take a long time and a lot of hard work. Don't give up hope.

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