by Julianna Philipps
Have you ever almost lost a loved one? In 2020, my mom suffered a severe, life-changing
stroke. She was not feeling well one morning so my dad took her to the hospital where they took
her blood pressure, and it was way off the charts. She had extremely high blood pressure. The
nurses brought it down to regular pressure because they thought that would help her feel better.
It obviously was a bad idea because her body was used to very high blood pressure.
This caused her body to have an immediate reaction and was not able to pump blood to her brain
and through her body. This then caused her to have a major stroke in the hospital.
She immediately lost all movement and strength on the left side of her body. She could
not talk or move her left leg, arm, and hand. She was in ICU for almost a week, then later moved
to a regular hospital room.
When she got home, she had to do occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech
therapy. This was mentally and physically draining for her. She had to relearn how to do normal
daily activities such as sitting in a chair, standing up, using stairs, and even eating. She started to
get depressed and had very negative thoughts. She thought she could never do things she enjoys
like gardening, going on hikes, and cooking.
Watching her struggle with specific tasks and having doubts about herself was very hard on
my dad, sister, and myself. She was a very bold and confident person before the stroke. All my
family could do was just be there for her and support her. We kept her motivated and positive
throughout her whole recovery.
The worst part of this experience was that her doctors and physical therapists told her she
would most likely never get back to her 100% self, mentally or physically.
The goal of stroke rehabilitation and recovery is to restore speech, cognition, motor, and
sensory skills so you can get back to being independent (5). A stroke recovery timeline is
different among all stroke victims (6). The definition of recovery is returning to a normal state of
mind, strength, and health (6). Just because your doctor tells you this is how long it will take for
you to do this or achieve this does not mean that is when it will happen, and if it doesn’t happen
like the doctor predicted, don’t get down on yourself because your obstacles are different than
others (6). More than 795,000 people in the US have a stroke every year (3). Every sixth death
from a cardiovascular problem was a stroke (3). A stroke is the second leading cause of death
and a leading cause of long-term disability (3). In a study, 74% of stroke victims were able to
walk without assistance (6). Only 10% of stroke victims recover almost completely, this number
needs to be higher (5). Strokes are common in ages 55 and up and are more common in males
than females (3). It will be harder and take much more time for a full recovery; the first 3 months
is the faster gain of recovery, then after 3 months results slow down, but if they keep doing rehab
it won’t stop (6). Letting doctors and therapists tell you what you will be able to do and what you
won’t be able to do based on their past patients, is the problem in stroke recovery.
American Stroke Association (ASA) is creating new advances in imaging and
rehabilitation for stroke victims (2). They also provide support, information, or even just a
listening ear for stroke victims and their family members (2). Their goal is to treat and defeat
strokes (2). They also are conducting innovative research to help prevent strokes and reduce long-term, severe disabilities (2). Based on the side of the brain that was affected, left or right, will
determine which problems and disabilities the person will have (2).
According to the National Stroke Association (NSA), 10% of stroke victims recover back
to how they were before the stroke, 25 % have minor disabilities, and 40% have severe
disabilities and need extra help and care for normal daily living (5). They said that the
impairments and disabilities depend on the severity of the stroke (5). You will lose some mental
and physical abilities after a stroke (5). Some will come back slowly over time, but some will not
come back (5).
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NIH) researchers are
studying mechanisms of stroke risk factors (7). They are funded by NINDS research program
(7). They also are studying the process of brain damage and disorders that results from stroke (7).
They are conducting a lot of different innovative research on the brain and neurological recovery
after a stroke (7).
There needs to be more research and more help from doctors and physical therapists for
people who have had a stroke. There should be no acceptance that stroke victims can never get
back to their previous lives. According to NSA, some loss of abilities will come back slowly (5).
So, if you, a friend, or a family member has had a stroke, keep them motivated to keep
working harder and harder each day. Going to therapy to get advice or just having an unbiased
listening ear will help a lot. Information and advice from multiple people is better, no one should
tell you that you will never be able to do something again, there are plenty of rehab and recovery
methods just waiting to be used. Every day you get a step further to full recovery. If you set your
mind in the right place, anything is possible. There needs to be more motivation and positivity
towards stroke victims.
1- How many people are affected by risk for stroke? NIH.
2- Impact and need. ASA. https://www.stroke.org/en/about-the-american-stroke-
3- Stoke Facts. CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/facts.htm
4- Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics. AHA journals.
5- Stroke Recovery. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/stroke/recovery
6- Is a Full Recovery from Stroke Possible? Flint Rehab. https://www.flintrehab.com/full-
7- Current Research. NIH.