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Life After Stroke

If you or a loved one has had a stroke, you might be wondering when life will get back to “normal,” or if it ever will. Recovery is different for everyone, and while some people will recover fully, others may have long-term or lifelong disabilities. Recovery may take weeks, months or even years.

This page is meant to be a resource for you, your family or caregiver. It includes information about support groups and organizations for stroke survivors, family and caregivers, behaviors and actions you can take to prevent another stroke, some lifestyle changes you may experience after stroke and what kind of support you may receive after stroke.

The stroke care team at The University of Kansas Health System compiled this information for those who have been treated for stroke and their families and others who support them.

Resource and education organizations and support groups

  • The University of Kansas Health System offers a variety of support resources for people who have survived stroke. These resources can help people who have survived a stroke engage in a comprehensive approach to recover and rehabilitation.

    • Stroke Survivor and Caregiver Support Group meets 6-7 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month. Meetings are available to attend in person or via Zoom. For more information, call 913-945-8852.
    • Turning Point empowers and transforms the body, mind and spirit of individuals living with a serious or chronic physical illness and their loved ones. Turning Point provides innovative educational services and tools that help people take charge of their illnesses and live life to its fullest. Courses are available in person and virtually. Stroke-specific group meetings include reading and conversation, caregiver support, aphasia and traumatic brain injury. Other topics covered by Turning Point’s free courses include sleep, hope and optimism, mindfulness, yoga and more. Check Turning Point’s calendar of classes and programs to find courses that fit your needs.
  • The University of Kansas Medical Center’s Student Teaching and Rehabilitation Training – or JaySTART – Clinic provides free occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech-language services to the Kansas City community. Students in training, under the direct supervision of licensed occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech-language pathologists, provide rehabilitation services. Interpreter services are available.

  • The American Stroke Foundation is dedicated to empowering stroke survivors and their families, guiding them through the challenges that follow a stroke. The foundation acknowledges the difficulties these people face once hospital care ends and focuses on continued growth and healing in physical, cognitive, emotional and social health. It emphasizes ongoing treatment after stroke, especially focusing on improvement after those who’ve had a stroke leave the hospital.

    • ASF Next Step YouTube channel includes playlists about local resources, brain games, wellness, caregiver resources, exercise and more.
    • Life After Stroke blog, where you can find blog posts about caregiver resources, daily living, stroke education, stories and inspiration, wellness, safety and more.
    • Next Step program is a wellness program to help you continue to improve your daily living skills and regain independence. It also provides a place where you can socialize with others who understand life after a stroke.
    • Stroke Education Series is a monthly stroke education speaker series that is a partnership of The University of Kansas Health System and the American Stroke Association’s Next Step program. For more information about the series, including speakers and topics, call the American Stroke Foundation at 913-649-1776.
  • For 25 years, the American Stroke Association (ASA) has worked to ensure that stroke survivors receive timely and effective care, support and rehabilitation. The ASA website is a useful resource for stroke survivors and their family, friends and caregivers. It provides essential support and information about life after a stroke.

    • American Heart Association Support Network’s stroke forum where you can join conversations by topic such as emotional health, applying for disability benefits, balance issues and more.
    • Recovery After Stroke provides information about life after a stroke, including home modifications, returning to work, recipes and a downloadable guide for life after stroke.
    • Family Caregiver Alliance is a community-based nonprofit organization that helps families and friends who provide long-term care at home for those they love. The organization’s services and programming are designed to offer support, information and tools to manage the demands of caregiving, all with the caregivers’ needs in mind. For more information, call 800-445-8106.
    • The Stroke Family Warmline is a way for stroke survivors and their families to connect with a member of the American Stroke Association for support, help or a listening ear. For more information, call 888-478-7653.

Preventing secondary stroke

A person who has had a stroke is at high risk to have another. The American Heart Association found that 1 in 4 stroke survivors has another stroke within 5 years. This means it’s important to take steps to alleviate those factors that contribute to stroke that you can control. These factors include:

A significant step to preventing a secondary stroke is to change your eating and exercise habits if needed. Eating a healthy diet can help reduce your weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure. A healthy diet is rich in fruits and vegetable, lean meats, and whole-grain, high-fiber foods.

Another step you can take to prevent a secondary stroke is to take steps – get moving. Physical activity can help your cardiac function, blood pressure, risk and severity of diabetes and improve your strength, balance and endurance. Go for a walk, take the stairs, do whatever you can to make your life more active.

Finally, if you smoke, quit!

Lifestyle changes after stroke

Following a stroke, you or your family may notice you having more difficulty with everyday tasks. Difficulties or changes in how you feel or function may mean you need more supervision or assistance at home. Some physical or mental changes you may experience include:

  • Aphasia, a language disorder that can occur when a stroke affects the part of the brain that controls speech and language.
  • Caregiver burden is common among those who help care for a stroke survivor.
  • Falls can lead to more injuries and your risk of falling increases after stroke.
  • Fatigue, both mental and physical, is common after stroke.
  • Grief is common after a life-changing event such as stroke and can lead to depression if it is not addressed.
  • Pain such as headache, joint pain, or pain experienced on the side of the body affected by the stroke may occur after stroke.
  • Vision changes can also occur after a stroke and may include double vision, blurred vision or other vision problems.

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