For the 795,000 lives changed by stroke in the U.S. each year, rehabilitation offers a way to achieve the best possible recovery. As a stroke survivor I know firsthand the importance of rehabilitation. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic changes the way health care is delivered, it is important for stroke survivors to take advantage of the first three months after a stroke. When I was recovering from my stroke in 2012, it was a long road and I couldn’t have done it without my faith, the support from my family and my therapists.
After a stroke, a person may need therapy to learn to walk or talk again, relearn skills needed to be independent, recover communications and cognition skills, and address other consequences of stroke. Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 pandemic, some recent stroke patients may be going without rehab during this important “golden” time and other survivors may also be forgoing helpful therapy.
An individualized rehabilitation program is critical. The pandemic has required rehabilitation professionals to get creative to deliver essential therapies to stroke survivors. Now sessions may be held via video calls or there may be enhanced collaboration with organizations providing in-home support and an increased emphasis on personal protective equipment for staff and patients at in-person visits.
The American Stroke Association provides recovery tips and resources for stroke survivors and their caregivers:
I encourage anyone who has had a stroke to continue to seek care and not to give up. Through prayer and the love and support I received by both my family and my therapists gave me hope to continue to improve my health and well-being.
Barbara Holloman, of Meriden, is a stroke survivor and American Heart Association volunteer.