The good news is that modern medicine has not only become much better at identifying and treating strokes, but also in recognizing the importance of speech, physical, and occupational rehabilitation as soon as possible after the event. In fact, one common misconception is that stroke survivors will not regain skills after about one to two years after the injury.
This is unfortunate, as we have worked with many whose stroke happened years ago and who had resigned themselves to believing they had lost that window of opportunity to get better. These patients are delighted to learn that the incredible neuroplasticity of our brains means they can still find ways to compensate for lost abilities or to grow new pathways. We explain to them that their post-stroke journey is akin to finding the grocery store after a blizzard. They may need to take a different and new route because their usual route is blocked – and it may take longer – but they can still get there!
As with all of our patients, our treatment approach emphasizes your individual goals and preferences, your preferred learning style, your treatment team and your circle of support. We will learn all we can about you, so we understand what recovery goals would most significantly impact your self-worth, your sense of accomplishment and your quality of life. And if the stroke has made it hard for you to communicate your desires and goals, we will still find a way to learn about them. We will reach out to those who know you best to find out what you value and what you might miss most from your pre-stroke life. What makes you “you?” Do you want to be able to cook for your family again, call your dog’s name and take him for a walk, or say the name of someone you love? Regardless of what it is, we will coach you, encourage you, and creatively problem-solve right beside you.
Due to our highly individualized approach, no two treatment plans will look exactly alike. Yes, you may do some traditional exercises, such as worksheets, but we will also focus on practicing functional steps to re-learn the new behavior. We have seen that patients learn so much more effectively by actually “doing” and practicing what will help to function better in the real world. And not just any generic template of a real world, but YOUR real world.