Dealing with the after-effects of a stroke is challenging even if you have all of the support that you need, but many people aren't lucky enough to have family and friends who are willing to stand by them all day, every day while they recover from their brain-damaging event. If someone who you love has suffered from a stroke, one of the best ways to provide them with the comfort they need and give them the best possible chance at recovery is to arrange for live-in caregiving services. To learn if these services are right for you, you'll need to know more about strokes and the kinds of services that full-time caregivers can offer.

What Is a Stroke?

stroke occurs when blood is cut off to an area of a person's brain. The human brain needs a constant and rich flow of blood to operate effectively, and whenever this blood flow is cut off, brain damage can occur. The longer that the brain goes without blood, the more severely it is damaged, and there are two main types of strokes that can occur:

  • Hemorrhagic Strokes: These types of strokes occur when a blood vessel leading to the brain starts leaking blood or bursts. When this circulatory issue happens, the brain can no longer receive the levels of blood that it needs to thrive, and certain parts of the brain can be damaged.
  • Ischemic Strokes: Ischemic strokes occur when a blood vessel leading to the brain becomes blocked with a clot. Blood clots can occur for a number of reasons, but they become more frequent when people eat diets that contain large amounts of processed foods.

Whichever types of stroke occurs, the effects are pretty much the same. Strokes can impair a person's ability to think, speak, or move, and while it's sometimes possible to recover from these medical emergencies, many people never fully recover from their strokes.

What Happens After You Have a Stroke?

Since the human brain is so complex, the effects of a stroke vary from person to person. The types of effects that a stroke causes depend on the area of the brain that was deprived of blood, and since efforts to effectively map the brain have been unremarkable so far, it's even sometimes hard to tell which types of effects a stroke will have just based on the brain area that was damaged. Since you consciously or unconsciously control every aspect of your body with your brain, a stroke can impair a number of different bodily functions, and damage to the left side of your brain causes different effects than damage to the right side of your brain.

If the left side of a person's brain is affected by a stroke, they may experience paralysis on the right side of their body. Like a mirror, the brain reverses control of each side of the body to the opposite hemisphere; the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, and visa versa. Left-side brain injury can also cause difficulties vocalizing or speaking, and it can significantly influence a person to take on a more timid personality style. Injuries to this side of the brain can also cause memory loss, and in some rare cases, a stroke can cause total amnesia.

When it comes to paralysis, a stroke can impair motion to widely varying degrees. Some strokes may only impact a person's ability to move one side of their face, but other strokes may paralyze a person's entire left or right side. The same goes for the other effects of strokes; a person may experience total language loss, or they may simply forget how to put together a few choice phrases.

Stroke damage to the right side of the brain can cause paralysis of the left side of the body, and it can also cause vision impairments. It can make a person highly inquisitive and manic, and it can also cause memory loss. No matter which part of the brain is affected by a stroke, a stroke victim often loses much of their ability to interact with society and take care of themselves, which often necessitates full-time care.

Will You Recover from a Stroke?

There's no guarantee that a person will recover from a stroke. According to the National Stroke Association, only 10 percent of people who experience strokes recover fully, and another 25 percent of stroke victims recover partially with some minor lingering impairments. 40 percent of people who experience strokes, however, experience severe impairments from which they never recover, and these people will require constant care for the rest of their lives. 

What Types of Care Are Provided to Stroke Victims?

Since stroke is often such an all-encompassing phenomenon, a number of different techniques are used to approach this problem. Proper stroke treatment includes various forms of physical therapy, and it also involves plenty of mental exercises to try to rebuild pre-stroke cognition. In some cases, technological devices may also be used to treat stroke, and while some of these techniques can only be used by licensed health care professionals, others can be performed by family members or full-time caregivers.

Physical Activities

Physical activities that have been proven helpful in recovering from strokes include basic motor skill exercises. If a stroke victim has lost the ability to move part of their body, for instance, a caregiver or a healthcare professional may coach them to try to move that part of their body in tiny increments over a period of days, weeks, or months. Since strokes can also impact a person's ability to swallow, exercises that focus on the throat muscles may also be employed.

In some cases, stroke victims may not be able to walk or move around in the way that they used to, and mobility aids become required. Some stroke victims may only need basic mobility aids like ankle braces, but others may be confined to wheelchairs whenever they want to get around. Walkers and canes are also used frequently when people have strokes, and since stroke victims often experience emotional and cognitive impairment in conjunction with their physical impairment, caregivers or other helpers will sometimes need to provide detailed and diligent training on how to use these mobility aids.

One type of physical therapy that has enjoyed increasing success in recent years is constraint-induced therapy. This type of therapy involves the constraint of a limb without mobility issues to force the use of a limb that has been paralyzed or otherwise affected by a stroke. Range of motion therapy is also sometimes used in the case of a stroke, and this type of therapy is designed to reduce muscle tension and increase flexibility.

Technology-Assisted Activities

Various electronic devices are used to help people recover from strokes. One example of technology-assisted stroke therapy is called functional electrical stimulation, and it consists of mild electrical currents that are applied to muscles that have been weakened by a stroke. These electrical currents cause muscles to contract, which may help them regain their functionality. In recent years, various forms of robotics have also been used to help stroke patients recover, and these robots may help with muscle recovery by causing repetitive motions in affected limbs.

Many stroke victims find that wireless medical monitors help them keep track of the stroke recovery process, and the emergent industry of virtual reality also shows some promise for recovery from these types of brain injuries. One study found that virtual reality therapy versus conventional therapy led to an increased ability to use limbs affected by strokes, and this type of therapy will likely gain further and further approval and use as virtual reality becomes more mainstream in the medical community.

Cognitive Activities

Strokes often involve the loss of various cognitive functions, and there are a few different therapies that physicians or caregivers may use to improve cognitive activity in stroke victims. Many of these functions have to do with a person's ability to interact with the outside world, and if they want to return to their job, they may engage in occupational therapy to assist them in their ability to reason out situations, verbalize, write, and stay away from potential sources of danger. A person's personality is also often affected by a stroke, and they may undergo therapy to help them re-learn how to behave toward others in the social world.

During the stroke recovery process, continuing psychological evaluation and treatment is essential, and many stroke victims benefit from group counseling. Interacting with a group of other people who have experienced strokes can provide important social bonding, and it can also provide opportunities to flex social skills that have become impaired.

Experimental Therapies

Since strokes are such a big problem in the Western world, medical researchers are constantly inventing new ways to help victims of these brain injuries regain their functionality. Stem cells have shown some promise in the regeneration of brain tissue after a stroke, but not enough research has been done into stem cell therapy to know if it's truly valid as a stroke treatment. In some cases, alternative medicine treatments like massage and acupuncture may also be used.

When Should You Start Care After a Stroke?

It's never too early to start stroke rehabilitation. However, in the first few hours or days following a stroke, a physicians first priority will be to stabilize a stroke victim's condition. They will also need to take measures to prevent further strokes from happening, and they will need to address any life-threatening situations that may have cropped up. Once these basic concerns are attended to, however, it will be time to start taking actions to reverse or limit the effects of a stroke. Every stroke therapy that is employed should be used minimally to start, but as the stroke victim's condition improves, these activities can become more and more intensive.

How Long Will a Stroke Victim Be Recovering?

Some stroke victims recover almost immediately, but this circumstance is incredibly rare. Almost every person who experiences a stroke is in for a long recovery battle, and many people will never recover. However, many stroke victims will start to show signs of improvement within a matter of weeks, and a good number of these patients may regain a reasonable degree of their pre-stroke functionality within just a few months. The way that a person is cared for after their stroke has a big impact on their ability to recover, and professional caregivers understand just how delicate the pre-stroke situation is and act accordingly.

What Factors Determine the Success of Stroke Rehabilitation?

A number of variables will determine whether or not someone will recover from a stroke. First, it's necessary to take the severity of the stroke into account. If a person only suffers from a minor stroke, it's likely that they'll make a full or nearly full recovery, but if their brain loses access to blood for a number of consecutive minutes, it's possible that recovery will never happen. Scientists have also found that a patient's emotional reaction to having a stroke also affects their likelihood of recovery; if people who have suffered from strokes are able to accept what happened to them and start looking for solutions, they are much more likely to recover than patients who have trouble emotionally processing the impact of their stroke.

Stroke victims are better able to process their emotions when they have access to effective forms of social support. While friends and family can provide this support, not all stroke victims have access to these networks, which is where live-in caregivers come into the picture. Caregivers can pick up the slack when it comes to the physical activities that stroke victims are no longer capable of accomplishing, and these helpers can also provide patients with the companionship and emotional support that they need to grapple with their situation emotionally. Whether the prognosis is good or disheartening for the chances of full recovery, caregivers can stay right by the sides of stroke victims and provide the assistance and solace that patients need to approach their situation with a positive mindset.

How to Find Stoke Care and Home Care Services Near Me

When a person suffers from a stroke, it can feel like everything in their world turns upside down. In these situations, what's required is a sense of stability and security, and live-in caregivers can provide these stabilizing factors that have been shown to improve the stroke recovery process. To arrange qualified live-in stroke care for someone who you love, get in touch with the courteous staff at Mom's Home Care by calling 323-244-4789 today.