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Five ways to retrain your brain after a stroke. The brain can heal itself after a stroke. These five steps will help guide you through the process.

All stroke patients are different and it is impossible to predict what kind of recovery they will go through after a stroke. There are, however, some commonalities to the experience that many other survivors have gone through. Recovery progresses in three stages:

Physical rehabilitation involves exercise and practicing skills that will benefit the patient after they leave the hospital. Therapy is meant to teach balance, coordination, mobility and movement so that patients can walk or move around without help.

Patients will also be encouraged to practice activities of daily living, such as eating, grooming and toileting by themselves through therapy sessions.

Speech therapy helps stroke victims relearn how to speak and communicate. Generally, patients relearn basic skills first, like breathing, swallowing and talking. Later they can practice more complex tasks like reading out loud or writing down thoughts rather than speaking them verbally.

Emotional rehabilitation focuses on helping stroke victims work through feelings of depression or anxiety that may occur after a serious event such as this. Patients are encouraged to talk through their feelings and work towards coping with the changes that these emotions might bring.

After a stroke, patients may develop some limitations in what they can do after they leave the hospital. This is particularly true if there has been damage to the brain’s left hemisphere, where speech and language skills lie. Regardless, rehabilitation can help them improve their ability to function in day-to-day life.

Stroke rehabilitation, like any other kind of therapy, requires a lot of hard work and dedication. But it’s worth it; with the right motivation and support, patients can make remarkable progress in their recovery.


#1 Motivation

Motivation by doing the things you love and receiving positive feedback for your efforts can go a long way to helping you recover from a stroke. It’s important to have a positive outlook, but also engage in activities that are safe and realistic given your limitations. You don’t want to push yourself too hard or set unreasonable expectations for yourself. Furthermore, you should set realistic goals and manage your expectations. Setting unrealistic goals may lead to frustration and feelings of depression, so it’s important to be patient with yourself while you recover.

#2 Mind-body Connection

A “mind-body” connection is key. In other words, learning to listen to your body. Stroke survivors can practice mindfulness by focusing on their breathing in the present moment to help them relax and learn how to take better care of themselves. In particular, breathing exercises like the following are beneficial: Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Breathe in through your nose for four seconds, hold it for seven seconds and breathe out slowly through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat ten times.


#3 Repetition

Repetition is an important part of retraining the brain after a stroke. The more you practice certain tasks like standing or walking, the easier they will become. Your therapist will likely prescribe a set of exercises that you can work on at home. There are also many helpful online resources for stroke patients to practice specific skills with the help of virtual reality technology. These simulators generally take advantage of games or other applications available on smartphones, tablets and computers.

#4 Intensity

Intensity is another important factor in stroke rehabilitation as it relates to the strength and duration of a patient’s exercises. Working out too hard or too long can lead to exhaustion, dizziness and fatigue – all of which can impede progress. However, patients should also be careful not to work out too little. According to the American Stroke Association, “Patients who stop exercising stop improving.” Make sure your intensity level is high enough to provide benefits, but not so much that you are exhausted or risk injury.

#5 Frequency

Finally, frequency refers to how often you exercise and practice new skills. The more often you exercise, the more likely it is that your brain will retain new information and improve. Working out too infrequently will not allow for any significant changes to take place. Daily exercises are the best way to maintain your progress so make sure you are committed to working out daily.

The American Stroke Association has released guidelines for therapy programs that can help stroke patients recover some or all of their previous functions. According to the association, successful therapy requires at least 30 hours of treatment, five times a week, during the critical three-month period after a stroke. One way to help motivate yourself is by finding someone who understands what you are going through and who will encourage you along the way. If possible, join a support group that meets regularly in your community or online. You can find many examples at http://www.strokerecovery

Both physical and emotional rehabilitation help stroke patients get back to a normal, healthy life after their injury. Therapists understand that the road to recovery can be a long one, but with patience and practice stroke victims can get back to feeling like themselves again.

I hope this helps!

Additional Resources

British stroke association on re-wiring your brain.

Mayo Clinic on what to expect as you recover from a stroke.

About the Author

Sybille Bergin PT is a certified physiotherapist and one of the owners of Bergin Motion. Bergin Motion is a family-run Barrie Physiotherapy Clinic located in Barrie’s Southend. Sybille has been providing in-home physiotherapy for over 30 years. She specializes in treating acquired brain injuries, stroke recovery, and other related ailments. Sybille is a certified NDT practitioner. Neuro Development Therapy is a specialized hands-on treatment technique that promotes mobility, balance, core strength, and gross motor skills in a playful, fun, and dynamic way. Sybille leads a team of dedicated professionals providing first-class therapy at Bergin Motion to Barrie Ontario and surrounding areas.

About Bergin Motion

Barrie Ontario Physiotherapy

Bergin Motion is a Barrie Physiotherapy Clinic. Bergin Motion offers physiotherapy in Barrie to clients with a wide range of conditions. The clinic in Barrie specializes in orthopedic, neurological, and pelvic health disciplines. Bergin Motion treats clients both at their clinic and in the comfort of their own home if they cannot travel to the clinic. Located in the south end of Barrie, Ontario, the physio clinic boasts 9000 sq. ft., with seven treatment rooms and a fully equipped gym.