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Stroke - Rehabilitation

What about stroke rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation is a very important part of recovery for many stroke survivors. The effects of stroke may mean that you must relearn or redefine how you live. Stroke rehabilitation is designed to help you return to independent living by helping you relearn the skills and abilities that were damaged or lost because of the stroke.

The goals of stroke rehabilitation are to build your strength, capability, and confidence so that you can continue your daily activities despite the effects of your stroke. Rehabilitation services may include:

  • Physical therapy to restore movement, balance, and coordination
  • Occupational therapy to relearn basic skills, such as bathing and dressing oneself
  • Speech therapy to restore language and communication skills, and improve swallowing

Click here to go to our Stroke Rehabilitation section to learn more about the different types of stroke rehabilitation.

What is the prognosis after suffering a stroke?

The chances of surviving a stroke and the degree of long-term mental and physical disability are affected by many factors: the location, type, and severity of the stroke, and the patient’s individual characteristics such as age and medical history. The numbers cited below should only be used to get a general idea of stroke survival and disability rates.

Patients who suffer blocked-vessel (ischemic) stroke generally have much higher chances of survival than patients who suffer bleeding (hemorrhagic) stroke.

30-Day Death Rates for Different Types of Stroke 4,5
Blocked-vessel Stroke Bleeding Stroke
Women 7% 30%
Men 8% 35%
45 to 64 years old 8% to 12% 37%
65 years or older 8% 45%

In the longer term, 1-year mortality after a first stroke is approximately 24% in women 40 years or older and 21% in men, according to data from three large studies.3 Within 5 years of a first stroke, 51% of women and 47% of men will die, with an additional 22% of women and 13% of men experiencing another stroke. For women 60 to 69 years, the average survival after a first stroke is 7.4 years (6.8 years for men). In women 80 years or older, average survival is 3.1 years (1.8 for men).

Aside from mortality, stroke can also result in a significant amount of disability. In general, women are more disabled after stroke than men. This is probably because women are older on average when they have a stroke, and not because they have any inherent disadvantage.6 Between 50% and 70% of stroke survivors are able to eventually regain functional independence, but 15% to 30% are permanently disabled.7 In survivors of blocked-vessel (ischemic) stroke older than 65, the following disabilities were observed at 6 months after the stroke:6

  • 50% had some weakness on one side of the body
  • 35% had depressive symptoms
  • 30% could not walk without some assistance
  • 26% were institutionalized in a nursing home
  • 26% were dependent in activities of daily living
  • 19% had aphasia (difficulty speaking or comprehending language)

In general, the less severe the stroke, the faster and more complete the recovery. Although the above numbers seem bleak, keep in mind the other side of the coin: 7 in 10 stroke sufferers older than 65 can walk on their own just 6 months after the stroke, and 3 in 4 are able to live independently. It’s never too late to seek treatment, either: there are numerous treatments and therapies that can improve your chances of survival and full recovery even weeks after a stroke occurs. To learn more, see our article on Recovering From a Stroke.

Next: Preventing Stroke

Filed in Cardiovascular Disease > Stroke