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Recovering from stroke

Stroke affects everybody differently, and people recover from stroke at different rates. It's impossible to say immediately after a stroke if or when a person will be able to return to the day-to-day life that they lived previously. About one third make a significant recovery within one month although most people will have long-term problems - it may take a year or longer to make the best possible recovery. Severe strokes can kill or cause life-long disability. What help you need to recover from stroke will depend on how the stroke has affected you. This is something you will discuss with your doctor.

The following pages on our site may be of particular interest to you as you plan your recovery after a stroke:

Regaining your independence

Help with walking and mobility

Equipment to help at home

After a stroke it is only natural that you will want to get back to living a normal, active life as soon as possible, but there are some things with which you should take extra care:

Going back to work

Your GP or a member of the stroke care team will help decide if you are well enough to work. You should also discuss options with your employer, like whether you want to go back to work full-time, part-time, or if you could take on a new post within the same organisation. You can also talk to an Employment Advisor at a local Jobcentre Plus, who will give advice about disability, retraining and transferable skills.

You may find it useful to look at our section on Accessing work.

Driving

After a stroke or a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), you are not allowed to drive for at least a month - or one year if you drive a large goods vehicle or a passenger carrying vehicle. The extent of the damage the stroke has caused and the type of vehicle you drive will affect whether you can drive again. If you are still recovering after a month, you may have to inform the DVLA of your situation. Your GP can arrange for an assessment at a mobility centre, if necessary.

If you develop epilepsy after a stroke, you will not usually be allowed a licence for a normal car until you have been free of fits for a year (or longer for public-service vehicles or heavy goods vehicles).

Holidays and travel

Sometimes there are complications which make travelling difficult, or a long journey can make the tiredness caused by stroke much worse. As with driving and going back to work, it is a good idea to speak to your GP about whether a holiday is a good idea.

If you are finding it difficult to find insurance after a stroke, you can try The Stroke Association Insurance Services for more advice.

You may find it useful to look at our page on Accessible holidays.

Sex life

Making love is an important part of many relationships, whatever your age. Sexual difficulties after stroke can be the result of many factors, including psychological changes (such as low mood) and physical problems (such as weakness or paralysis). You may feel embarrassed talking about it with your doctor, but you shouldn't. It is an important part of your life and your doctor will be able to give you some advice.

The NHS website provides advice on Loss of libido (sex life).

When you or a loved one has had a stroke it's often very difficult to order your thoughts and think of questions to ask your consultant. It also may seem that they are extremely busy and don't want to be interrupted. Always ask!

Duncan Wilson, registrar at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital Stroke Unit says:

"We are more than happy to answer any questions you have in clinic regarding your stroke, this is often your only chance to ask questions so we encourage you to ask as many as you have. We will always have time to listen no matter how busy we may seem."

These are some things you might want to ask your doctor:

  • What caused my stroke?
  • What can I do to help prevent a further stroke?
  • Can you explain what each of my medications are for?
  • How often should I see my GP / have ongoing medical monitoring etc?
  • What should my blood pressure be?
  • Will my walking / speech / other abilities etc improve?
  • When is it safe for me to return to work, to driving, to exercise as before, to travel etc?

This is a suggested list, but of course you may have your own questions as well. It's always a good idea to have a list written down so you don't forget to ask things.

General

Have a look at the local NHS website's stroke pages for an idea of the support available in your area.

Kensington and Chelsea and Hammersmith and Fulham

Stroke services leaflet

Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster

Stroke support worker

Kensington and Chelsea only

Dysphasia Support Group
Share experiences of stroke

General

The Stroke Association are a charity organisation who support stroke survivors to make the best recovery they can. As well as providing information on all aspects of having a stroke, they give details of practical support and social clubs and groups in your area, and can offer grant payments to stroke survivors.
They also have a helpline - tel 0303 3033 100 / email info@stroke.org.uk

The NHS Choices website provides further information on strokes.

The Stroke Network are an online support organisation for people worldwide to share their experiences of surviving a stroke with others.

Kensington and Chelsea

If you live in Kensington and Chelsea then your council has produced a leaflet for people who have had a stroke and their carers called Getting back to everyday life.