When my husband Mark had a massive brain bleed at 46 years old, he was an avid athlete, maintained a meticulous diet and was the picture of health. He honestly looked like Superman lying in the ICU bed, after we were told he would not survive.
Mark did survive, and while he will never be the same due to the brain injury he sustained, he did not lose his desire to do everything he could to stay as mobile, healthy and as mentally intact as he could be. He is truly an inspiration. Here is how we worked on stroke recovery at home.
After we returned home from his three month hospital stay, one of the things I found Mark was able to do was modified yoga to help him during the stroke recovery process. This type of exercise can be modified in several different ways, making it ideal for various levels of ability.
Yoga helps improve:
You can even find specific classes online for individuals who have recently had a brain injury due to stroke or trauma. A great organizations can be found by clicking the link below:
Walking is another activity that can be helpful for those recovering from brain injury or stroke recovery. The simple act of walking, can help with:
- Reduces Fatigue
- Increases Blood Flow To The Brain
The individual should be accompanied by someone to prevent falls and monitor safety, especially when initially beginning a regimen.
Swimming can be another modifiable way to get in physical activity regularly. It reduces risk of fall and is beneficial for those who may have joint, range of motion or movement limitations.
For example, if you are caring for someone who has recently had a stroke and has lost use of one side of the body, they may feel more comfortable moving through the water by walking and using their strongest side to hold on to the wall of the pool.
Many gyms have pools or therapy pools available for use year round. Check out the following near you to find a therapy or heated pool:
- Local Private Physical Therapy Clinics
- Local Hospitals
I make sure Mark does some kind of stretching every day. It helps:
- Increase Range Of Motion
- Increases Blood Flow
- Decreases Stress
- Can Calm The Mind
Stretching is something we all should do. If an individual has recently experienced a stroke, it may be essential to continue daily stretching, even when physical and occupational therapy have been completed.
Need some guidance? There are many FREE videos available to help inspire and demonstrate safe and effective practices to add to your daily road to recovery!
Finally, while exercising the body is so important, I also include daily “brain exercises” for Mark, even 7 years after his brain injury. While I understand we will likely not see improvement in his cognitive abilities, my hope is to decrease his chances of more loss or impairment.
You may find this checklist helpful for “brain exercise” for yourself or any individual you may be caring for who has had an acquired or traumatic brain injury. These can even be beneficial for those with the early stages of dementia.
There are so many benefits for all of us in working to improve our physical and mental health. So if you are a caregiver for someone with a brain injury or recent stroke, consider making it a group effort. It can be a great way to spend quality time together.
Keep in mind the greatest benefits are seen in completing physical exercise 30 minutes three times per week. Don’t let that overwhelm you though. I break up Mark’s activity into three 10 minute activities, which is more manageable for him with his challenges.
So have fun with it. Make it your own. Don’t be focused on being perfect. Any effort counts!
Always consult your physician or the individual’s physician before starting any physical activities