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A Refreshing Approach to Stroke Recovery

To be happy is to be healthy. Health is not the lack of illness but a state of wellbeing. It is the balance between the physical, psychological, and social aspects of our life. Recovering from a stroke means reestablishing the balance between these elements, not only for the survivor, but also for the family that cares for them.

Think of a day when you have had the flu, were sad because a favorite pet died, or upset because one of your children shows up late for a special dinner. Each of these represents a day that is less happy or healthy due to a physical illness, a psychological mindset, or a dispute with another family member. A happy day is when there is balance in your physical and psychological health with contentment over the things that one values in life.

What would make you happier? Sitting on a rocking chair watching your grandchildren play or demanding that the children be quiet so as not to disturb you? How can you contribute to equilibrium between you and your spouse, son or daughter, and the children?

What is healthier? For a caregiver to ask for help so they can continue the things they enjoy like playing tennis or going to bridge club or staying home resentful of the things that are different in their life? Happy, healthy days are achieved not as a result of rehabilitation and recovery after stroke but as a result of our success across the journey we all share when someone in our family needs us.

Our minds and attitudes are powerful tools when it comes to stroke healing and recovery. The best health for a person after disabling stroke or the family who cares for them is not directly correlated to the physical disability of the stroke survivor. The greatest sense of wellbeing occurs in families that celebrate the gifts that come from caring for each other. In fact, disability often brings people closer together since more time is spent at home and less time is spent in the hustle and bustle of our normal everyday lives. Happiness is about appreciating the things we do have, here and now.

By: Katherine J Sullivan, PT, PhD, FAHA, Associate Professor of Clinical Physical Therapy at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

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"Happy, healthy days are achieved not as a result of rehabilitation and recovery after stroke but as a result of our success across the journey we all share when someone in our family needs us."

Staying Balanced

Recovery from stroke is a lifelong process that includes reestablishing the equilibrium between the physical, psychological, and social aspects of one’s life. Every day make an effort to maintain the balance between these elements to guarantee the happiest, healthiest life after a stroke.

  • Maintain your physical wellbeing through daily exercise and physical activity; when physical limitations limit your usual activity see a physical therapist.
  • Maintain you psychological wellbeing; if you are sad or indifferent about life for more than 1 to 2 weeks see a counselor to help you sort out the challenges in your life.
  • Maintain stability in the social aspects of your life; “bloom where you’re planted” is a daily motto that helps us create a happy, healthy environment for all of us.
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