By John D. Hamilton
I am saddened to think that stroke recovery is sometimes trapped in an outdated and dogmatic approach to help people with their stroke recovery. But the sad truth is unless you are one of the very fortunate ones, either geographically to be located next to a cutting edge stroke rehabilitation facility or the monetary means to afford such treatment, you are stuck with the stock standard cookie cutter approach to stroke treatment. And there is a good chance that it is stuck in the past.
Myths surrounding stroke recovery may be perpetuated by a number of factors. It seems that once something has been printed in a newspaper or magazine it is taken as gospel. Many of the belief surrounding the brain have been around for a long time and despite new research dispelling the myth, it takes a long time for this to filter into mainstream belief systems. This can clearly be seen with all the out dated beliefs in the exercise and fitness world. This article will discuss three main myths surrounding stroke recovery. Firstly that the brain is set in stone and cannot change. Secondly that there is only a small window of opportunity for stroke recovery to happen. And the last myth is that there are not better and more effective ways to perform stroke rehabilitation.
I cannot believe that myth number one still gets any credence. Some people still feel that the brain is set in stone and cannot change. We see the brain changing all the time and at every age. Every time we learn something new, the brain has changed. For example for you to learn a new skill such as like playing tennis requires your brain to change. As you improve, your co-ordination gets better, your speed improves and your accuracy sharpens all this must be reflected by changes in your brain and nervous system. The brain controls everything, and when changes happen like the previously mentioned tennis ones, the brain must have changed. This myth has been dispelled by science and neurology and as a far as I am concerned is really, pardon the pun, a no brainer to argue against.
Another commonly held myth about stroke recovery is that recovery can only happen in a small time period after the stroke and once that window is closed any further recovery is impossible. As a carry on from the point above, that the brain can change at anytime, this is once again just a myth. I don’t discredit that making progress could be easier if stroke rehabilitation is started earlier but to say that it cannot be made after a magical window has closed is absurd. I have heard of some individuals 10 years after their stroke, who have been at a certain level of recovery and were then exposed to advanced stroke recovery methods and made more progress at that stage of their recovery than previously. The brain is capable of change at any time and if you are a stroke survivor and wanting more progress do not ever give up.
The last myth to discuss may not really be a myth as such but has more to do with the outdated and inefficient stroke recovery exercises that patients are given. The last 20 years has seen huge leaps forward in areas of brain research and subsequently stroke rehabilitation. The people at the top of stroke rehabilitation are doing some really ground breaking things. Unfortunately it takes time for this top end information to assimilate down to the masses, so as a consequence many stroke survivors do not get exposed to the best stroke recovery techniques like constraint induced therapy or mirror therapy.
Unfortunately there are many myths surrounding stroke recovery. I hope this article has helped to educate and open your mind up to the truth about your stroke rehabilitation and how you should be approaching it. At times stroke rehab can be a very daunting task, filled with too much science, jargon and technique that may be difficult to understand. I have made it my goal to try and make available the best stroke recovery techniques to stroke survivors, their family members, care givers and health care practitioners.
For more hints and tips on stroke recovery, go to author John Hamilton’s website which is all about the most effective stroke treatment.
John D. Hamilton
Health Professional, Stroke Rehabilitation Researcher and Author of “The Stroke Rehab Handbook”.
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