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One Year Stroke Recovery Myth

By: Dr. Elyse Newland


The idea that stroke recovery stops after the first year continues to be perpetuated, even though it's not true. While every stroke and stroke survivor is different, there is always potential for progress, even years later.


Why the Myth Persists

After someone has a stroke, the brain's neuroplasticity, or its ability to change and adapt, is at an all-time high for the first 3-6 months. This means that you and your healthcare team may have seen some speedy progress in that time. However, after the first 3-6 months, the brain's neuroplastic ability begins to slow, and progress does too. Healthcare professionals likely don't want to give someone false hope, so they downplay the amount of recovery potential. However, this can be detrimental to someone's recovery journey and, ultimately, isn't helpful as no one knows how much someone will recover until they try!


The Reality of Ongoing Recovery

Advancements in neuroscience have shown us the brain's amazing ability to form new neural connections at any age, given the right conditions. So, while progress does slow down in the years following a stroke, it doesn't stop. 


What are some ways to continue making progress, even years later?

Strategies for Continued Progress

  1. Consistent Rehab Routine: Whether you're still in therapy or working on your rehab at home, being consistent in your rehab routine is one of the most significant factors in recovery. The brain likes routine and familiarity, so it prioritizes the pathways used most often. 

  2. Lifestyle: A healthy diet, regular physical activity, and adequate sleep all support brain health and overall well-being, creating an optimal environment for recovery.

  3. Mental and Emotional Health: Recovery is more than just physical improvement. Taking care of and seeking support for mental and emotional health is just as important.

  4. Community and Support Groups: Connecting with others who are going through something similar can provide invaluable support and motivation.

Remember, a timeline doesn't define your progress! 


Take care, 

Elyse


P.S. Most people don’t have access to e-stim or robotics to work on foot drop in their home stroke rehab. So I’ve put together a collection of simple and effective stretches and exercises that can be incorporated in a rehab routine to improve foot drop. No special equipment needed!


*Sign up for Dr. Elyse's e-mails, they are extremely informative and helpful for stroke survivors, as well as her YouTube channel! You can sign up to subscribe for both (free) here: https://post-stroke.org/links/.



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