Recovery time after a stroke is different for everyone - it can take weeks, months, or even years. Some people recover fully, but others have long-term or lifelong disabilities.
What to expect after a stroke
If you had a stroke, you can make great progress in regaining your independence. However, some problems may continue:
- Paralysis (inability to move some parts of the body), weakness, or both on one side of the body
- Trouble with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgement, and memory
- Problems understanding or forming speech
- Trouble controlling or expressing emotions
- Numbness or strange sensations
- Pain in the hands and feet that worsens with movement and temperature changes
- Trouble with chewing and swallowing
- Problems with bladder and bowel control
Rehab can include working with speech, physical, and occupational therapists.
- Speech therapy helps people who have problems producing or understanding speech.
- Physical therapy uses exercises to help you relearn movement and coordination skills you may have lost because of the stroke.
- Occupational therapy focuses on improving daily activities, such as eating, drinking, dressing, bathing, reading, and writing.
Therapy and medicine may help with depression or other mental health conditions following a stroke. Joining a patient support group may help you adjust to life after a stroke. Talk with your health care team about local support groups, or check with an area medical center.
Support from family and friends can also help relieve fear and anxiety following a stroke. Let your loved ones know how you feel and what they can do to help you.
Preventing another stroke
If you have had a stroke, you are at high risk for another stroke:
- One in four strokes each year are recurrent.
- The chance of stroke within 90 days of a TIA may be as high as 17%, with the greatest risk during the first week.
That's why it's important to treat the causes of stroke, including heart disease, high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation (fast, irregular heartbeat), high cholesterol, and diabetes. Your doctor may prescribe you medicine or tell you to change your diet, exercise, or adopt other healthy lifestyle habits. Surgery may also be helpful in some cases.
- Mozzafarian D, Benjamin EJ, Go AS, et al. on behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics—2016 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2016;133:e38-e360.
- Lambert M. Practice Guidelines: AHA/ASA guidelines on prevention of recurrent stroke. Am Fam Physician 2011;83(8):993–1001.
Content last updated on January 31, 2020