After a stroke, it's common to have some physical, speech, and mental health problems. But most post-stroke side effects and symptoms will improve with time and rehabilitation.
Contact the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute to learn more about inpatient rehab.
Everyone recovers from a stroke differently. Most people will need some form of rehabilitation.
The goal of stroke rehab is to get you back to living as much of a normal daily life as possible. Your stroke's severity and the damage it does affect how much rehab you will need.
The stages of stroke recovery include:
Factors that affect how long it will take you to recover from a stroke include:
Stroke recovery focuses on overcoming post-stroke side effects and symptoms.
Here's a typical recovery timeline.
Initial stroke treatment
Stroke recovery begins the moment you enter the ER. That's when treatment will start to save your life and limit your stroke's damage.
Doctors may admit you to the intensive care unit (ICU) or acute care.
Within 24 hours
For stroke survivors who are medically stable, rehab often starts 24 hours post-stroke.
First few weeks after stroke
Most stroke survivors stay in the hospital for five to seven days.
During that time, your doctor will assess your post-stroke side effects. You'll also start intensive inpatient stroke rehab focused on getting you back home.
Three to four months post-stroke
The most rapid recovery from a stroke takes place within the first three to four months.
If you're in acute rehab, you can expect to see improvement week to week.
Stroke rehabilitation timeline
Stroke rehab takes time. After six months, your rate of recovery slows down, but it doesn't end.
Some stroke survivors can continue to improve for up to 18 months post-stroke, depending on the rehab they receive.
You may need stroke rehab for weeks, months, or years.
Types of rehab can include:
Having a stroke puts you at high risk of having another one, with one in four strokes each year being repeats.
The first week after a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or "mini-stroke" is when the risk of a major stroke is greatest.
Ways to help prevent stroke include:
Common post-stroke physical problems include:
There are different effects when a stroke happens on the right side of the brain versus the left.
A right-side stroke causes problems on the left side of the body, such as muscle weakness or stiffness. A stroke that occurs in the left side of the brain will affect movement on the right side of the body.
A stroke to the right side of the brain can cause:
A left-side stroke can cause:
You may need focused rehab and treatment to address other conditions after a stroke.
Shoulder-hand syndrome happens when muscles decrease in size and strength and cause the shoulder to detach from its socket.
Symptoms may include:
Preventing and treating the syndrome is crucial to the rehab process. Range-of-motion exercises can help.
A rare occurrence often seen in people after having a stroke is "learned non-use."
This happens when you accept the loss of function of a muscle or muscle group and only use your "good side."
Treatment for this condition allows the brain to "rewire" connections to help regain function and movement.
Spasticity is a frequent outcome of stroke.
Your limbs may change position. Your neck, arms, or legs can become stiff, painful, or shortened, limiting mobility and interfering with daily life.
Spasticity treatment at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute can help improve your quality of life.
The speech-language experts at the UPMC Rehabilitation Institute assess and treat speech, language, and other communication disorders.
This collective term describes speech changes caused by any of the following:
This is a specific type of neurology-based speech change.
It happens when the brain isn't able to provide normal sensory and motor control to the:
Signs of speech apraxia include:
Aphasia is a language-processing disorder that happens because of damage to the brain.
Aphasia affects your ability to:
Aphasia does not affect your:
You and your caregivers may find aphasia very frustrating. It's like trying to learn and speak a foreign language when living in a foreign country.
Post-stroke cognitive impairment is common among stroke survivors for all subtypes of stroke.
Stroke can damage the parts of the brain that handle your:
Depression is a frequent problem after a stroke.
Physical and psychological symptoms of depression can include:
Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about depression. You may find that antidepressant medications can help.
You can also get a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist in addition to (or instead of) medicine.
Socializing with other people who have had strokes may also help improve mood.
There's hope and help for survivors of stroke.
The following local, state, and national resources offer practical, emotional, and financial services and support for stroke survivors and their caregivers.
Many groups in western Pa. offer support to stroke survivors.
State stroke programs
Stroke survivors can find help through many programs throughout Pa. as well.
National stroke resources
Caregivers can take the form of spouses, partners, children, brothers, sisters, and friends. They may provide care for only a few months or for many years.
Although you may find caregiving rewarding, you may also find it frustrating and stressful.
You may have a range of emotions after your loved one has had a stroke, such as:
These feelings are all normal.
There are a few key things to remember as a caregiver:
UPMC Stroke Institute
200 Lothrop St.
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
Resources you can turn to for support or to learn more about caring for a loved one after stroke may include:
Visit the following websites to learn more about stroke and caregiving:
Call 1-877-287-3422 to learn more about our stroke rehab program or to refer a patient.