Recovery from a stroke may take months or years. Many people who have had a stroke never fully recover. A person who has had a stroke may have the following temporary or permanent symptoms:
- Inability to move on one side of the body
- Weakness on one side of the body
- Problems with thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory
- Problems understanding or forming speech
- Problems with controlling or expressing emotions
- Numbness or strange sensations
- Pain in the hands and feet that worsens with movement and temperature changes
Types of Treatment for Stroke
Stroke treatment includes:
When a person is able to get to the hospital within a few hours of having a stroke, health care providers will treat a stroke with medications, surgery, or both, depending on the type of stroke.
Medication for Ischemic Stroke
- Thrombolytic (pronounced throm-buh-LIT-ik) agents
These medications are used to treat an ongoing ischemic stroke caused by a blocked artery. They stop the stroke by dissolving the blood clot that has blocked blood flow to the brain.
- Blood-thinning medications
These drugs include antiplatelet (pronounced anti-PLEYT-lit) drugs and anticoagulants (pronounced anti-koh-AG-yuh-luhnts) and work to prevent blood clotting that causes ischemic stroke.
In the case of ischemic stroke, a surgeon can clear out the clogged artery to allow blood to resume flowing to the affected part of the brain. Surgery can also repair structural abnormalities in arteries in the case of hemorrhagic stroke.
A patient who has had a stroke may continue taking blood-thinning medications, referred to as blood thinners, to prevent another stroke. Surgery performed to treat a stroke may also help to prevent another stroke. Health care providers will also advise stroke survivors to make lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising, and treating related medical conditions.
For more information on preventing stroke, see the Other FAQs within the Stroke topic.
Stroke is the leading cause of serious adult disability in the United States. Several types of therapies can help a stroke survivor regain some or all of the functions damaged by the stroke. These therapies include:
- Physical therapy
A physical therapist uses training and exercises to help a patient relearn physical activities such as walking, sitting, standing, and lying down. A special type of physical therapy called constraint-induced movement therapy (CIMT) can improve the use of a weakened or paralyzed arm. CIMT involves training and exercise for the affected arm while the unaffected arm is restrained by a special mitt.
- Occupational therapy
Occupational therapy involves exercise and training to help a patient relearn daily activities such as eating, drinking, dressing, bathing, cooking, reading, writing, and using a toilet.
- Speech therapy
Speech therapy helps patients relearn language and speaking, including swallowing.
- Psychological therapy
Stroke survivors may suffer from depression, anxiety, frustration, and anger. Talk therapy, medications, or both can treat these symptoms.1,2
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Stroke. Retrieved August 7, 2012, from http://www.cdc.gov/stroke/
- National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2012). Stroke: Hope through research. Retrieved August 7, 2012, from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/stroke/detail_stroke.htm