6 Ways Family Can Support During Rehab

Stroke often causes complex and lasting injuries to the brain, necessitating a multifaceted approach to recovery. Complete rehabilitation could take several months, with treatment objectives aligned to relearning lost skills, gaining independence for everyday tasks, preventing complications, avoiding/ postponing re-hospitalization and achieving a better quality of life.

The procedure is multi-faceted, with emphasis on motor skill-training, mobility training, speech therapy, physiotherapy and psychological counseling. The goals are carefully identified and a program is designed to strengthen body and mind, and help the patient emerge healthier and more confident than before.

While a trained transition care team will provide expertise and care from a medical perspective, support and company of the near and dear plays a remarkable role in effective recovery.

If you have a family member who recently underwent treatment for stroke, here are six ways in which you could help.

Educate yourself: Recovery is influenced by many factors such as, which part of the brain is affected, and how badly; motivation levels in the patient; general wellness before ailment etc. It is therefore, crucial that the family educates itself about the condition, what to expect from treatment and post-treatment care. You could also participate in the rehabilitation goal-setting session, and identify roles to contribute in.
Dedicate time: If you do not live with the patient, make it a point to visit and speak to them regularly. Include an activity that you could do together, such as Physiotherapy, playing board-games, picking a casual pastime, watching television, listening to music, or reading them a book. Choose a time of the day for an activity and make it a habit; it will not only create a routine for them to look forward to, but also discipline the rest of the day, the fun way.
Encourage practice: The patient needs to regularly practice skills learned during rehabilitation therapies. These could vary from simple stretching and physical exercises to speech therapy, most of which need practice to perfect. Cheer them up when they improve, offer support when they struggle. Create an easy schedule and maybe set reminders for activities to help them regularize practice.
Track progress: Measuring progress and improvement is critical to making timely modifications and upgrades to the rehabilitation procedures. Work in with your transitional care team to learn how to measure and track success of the recovery process.
Monitor changes: Make a note of possible triggers and behavioral changes in the patient, as this might be critical information in early identification of a relapse, or a measure of rehabilitation success. Successful recovery almost always aims at eliminating the need for re-hospitalization or recurrence of the stroke. Ask your team for specific patterns to look for and keep an alert eye.
Be patient: This is the most important contribution a family member can make to the patient’s recovery and eventual cure. Rehabilitation is a gradual, step-by-step process, and in the case of a stroke, may take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Keeping in touch with the treating doctor and transition care practitioner, the family should find a practical way to manage other elements of their life including work, travel and personal time and contribute positively and diligently to the process.

Have you closely witnessed a stroke recovery in your family? What do you think were the biggest challenges and strengths? We would love to hear from you, on your learning and suggestions.

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