Is What I am Experiencing After My Stroke Normal?

Illustration of a woman sitting on a chair with colorful thought bubbles over her head
Illustration of a woman sitting on a chair with colorful thought bubbles over her head

Is What I am Experiencing After My Stroke Normal?

Although there are some common side effects and impairments after having a stroke it is important to recognize everyone’s experience is unique. You may have symptoms and impairments that other survivors do not have.

There are three major areas that stroke impacts:

Illustration of a stroke survivor with a cane and a hand brace walking

Physical Changes

Typically, physical changes can be traced to the location in your brain that was most impacted by your stroke. Depending on where the blood supply was affected in your brain you may experience some of the following physical changes:

  • weakness on one side of the body
  • vision changes
  • fatigue
  • difficulty swallowing
  • challenges moving around due to changes in balance and
  • coordination
  • too much muscle tone (spasticity) or too little muscle tone
  • (flaccidity), making them hard to move

Early rehabilitation can help you overcome some of your physical impairments. You can read more about what to expect related to recovery and rehabilitation here.

Illustration of a woman sitting on a chair with colorful thought bubbles over her head

Cognitive Changes

You may also have changes in how you think and process information. These changes may be referred to as cognitive changes and can include the following:

  • difficulty paying attention or concentrating
  • trouble problem-solving
  • difficulty remembering things
  • difficulty recognizing things
  • trouble understanding what someone said
  • challenges saying what you are thinking

Cognitive changes can be some of the most frustrating impairments after a stroke. It is important to recognize it is normal to be frustrated when you first discover you may be experiencing these challenges.

Illustration of a stroke survivor sitting on a bench and caregiver

Emotional Changes

Because stroke affects your brain, it can also affect how you experience emotions. Many survivors experience a range of feelings or emotions after a stroke. It is estimated that 60% of stroke survivors experience depression and 67% experience anxiety. Some feelings you may experience include:

  • stress
  • sadness or disappointment
  • frustration
  • irritability
  • carelessness
  • confusion
  • anger
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • grief

At Kandu, we understand the overwhelming nature of stroke and are experienced in supporting stroke survivors as they begin their recovery journey. Your Kandu Navigator can help you identify the symptoms you are experiencing, how to address them and assist you in determining next steps to support your recovery.

Kandu Health offers remote clinical support through our app, stroke survivor community and team of Kandu Navigators. We provide information, resources, and guidance for stroke survivors and their care partners.

Register Today!

Text or call us at 415-384-5623, dial extension 1.

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How Do I Reduce My Risk of a Second Stroke?

Illustration of sports shoes and weights
Illustration of sports shoes and weights

How Do I Reduce My Risk of a Second Stroke?

Having a stroke can be overwhelming. During your time in the hospital, you may be given a lot of information about reducing your risk of having another stroke.

So, how do you reduce your risk?

The best place to start is with recommendations from your healthcare team. If you are working with a Kandu Navigator they will assist you in creating a personal recovery plan and identifying resources and support to aid you in your recovery.

Your healthcare team may ask you to make changes to your lifestyle and your daily routine after your stroke. These changes can help keep your brain and body healthy. These changes might include:

Blood Pressure

Illustration of a heart monitor

Checking your blood pressure daily. At home blood pressure monitors are readily available.

Exercise

Illustration of sports shoes and weights

Exercising regularly. Walking three hours a week can lower your chances of a second stroke by up to 43% a recent Harvard Study.

Healthy Eating

Illustration of an apple, orange and greens

Adding nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats to your diet. Consider replacing partially hydrogenated cooking oils with avocado or olive oils, and reducing foods with added sugars.

“No” to Smoking

Illustration of a no-smoking sign

Saying “no” to smoking. Quitting smoking is tough. There are free programs that can help you. Freedom From Smoking® has helped hundreds of thousands of people quit for good and is now available in a variety of formats.

Limit Alcohol

Illustration of a alcohol

Limiting how much alcohol you drink. Drinking alcohol disrupts your sleep and good sleep. It is essential, it is when your body rests and repairs itself. Try limiting your alcohol late in the evening to start.

Manage Stress

Illustration of a hand and heart

Managing stress through a strong support system, community, and connections. Consider relaxation activities such as mindfulness, breathing exercises, yoga, or tai chi.

Kandu Health offers remote clinical support through our app, stroke survivor community and team of Kandu Navigators. We provide information, resources, and guidance for stroke survivors and their care partners.

Register Today!

Text or call us at 415-384-5623, dial extension 1.

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Signs of Stroke Related Infections

Illustration of a stroke survivor in a wheelchair suffering from discomfort in hes stomach
Illustration of a stroke survivor in a wheelchair suffering from discomfort in her stomach

Signs of Stroke Related Infections

Infection is common after a stroke and can lead to worse outcomes for the stroke survivor including sepsis and even death. Infections can occur as a result of stroke complications such as bladder control issues or swallowing issues or difficulty swallowing. They can also occur due to changes to the immune system after a stroke, making the body more susceptible to infections.

The three most common infections in the first few days and weeks after a stroke are:

If you are experiencing signs of infection, please contact your primary care physician immediately. If you are a participant in the Kandu Stroke Recovery Program, your navigator will assist you with an emergency plan to get the help you need.

Illustration of a stroke survivor in a wheelchair suffering from discomfort in his stomach

Urinary Tract Infections (UTI) and Kidney Infections

Germs can build up in the bladder if urine (pee) is not being passed as frequently as necessary. Survivors with urinary retention, difficulty emptying their bladder, or limited mobility may have an increased risk of UTIs may have an increased risk of UTIs and kidney infections. Incontinence, or soiling oneself, is also very common after a stroke. Sitting in wet or soiled clothes for too long can allow germs to move up the urinary tract. This can also increase the risk of skin breakdown and infections.

Symptoms of UTIs and Kidney Infections include:

  • fever
  • pain in the abdomen or back
  • pain or burning with urination (peeing)
  • cloudy or smelly urine
  • needing to use the bathroom more frequently and urgently
  • unexplained delirium, confusion, or agitation.

If you are experiencing signs of infection, please contact your primary care physician immediately. If you are a participant in the Kandu Stroke Recovery Program, your navigator will assist you with an emergency plan to get the help you need.

Illustration of a stroke survivor feeling chest pain

Lung infections or pneumonia

Swallowing difficulties, like dysphagia, can cause fluid, foods, and your own saliva to go down the wrong way into the lungs instead of the stomach. This can lead to lung infections, such as pneumonia.

Pneumonia can cause many symptoms, including:

  • fever
  • chills
  • cough, often with phlegm
  • gurgling speech and/or frequent throat clearing
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • fatigue, and
  • muscle aches or pains

If you have pneumonia, you may require additional treatments. Talk to your healthcare team if you are experiencing any of these concerns.

It is important to follow any recommendations from the speech or occupational therapist around thickening liquids or mealtime strategies to reduce your risk of choking or lung infections. If you have concerns about swallowing and are not seen by a therapist, talk to your medical team about a swallowing evaluation.

Make sure that you closely monitor how well you are able to chew and swallow different foods. This can help reduce your risk of choking and infection.

Some tips for preventing a UTI include:

  • staying hydrated
  • wiping front to back after going to the bathroom
  • urinating after sex
  • using clean techniques to change catheters
  • avoiding the use of perfumed soap or other products on the genitals
  • checking the expiration dates of contraception and intravaginal devices
  • talking to the healthcare team about concerns related to your period or menopause
Illustration of a stroke survivor feeling pain in her joints

Skin infections or pressure sores

Skin infections can occur from remaining in wet or soiled clothing for too long. This may cause skin breakdown as well. You may not be able to move around as easily as you could before your stroke. This can cause you to remain in one position for too long, which may put pressure on your skin. Anticoagulation (“blood thinners”) can also contribute to breakdown.

Too much force on delicate areas of the skin can cause pressure sores or infections. Pressure sores are especially common on bony areas of the body. You can inspect your skin for signs of infection from head to toe including:

  • back of the head
  • shoulder blades
  • elbows
  • buttocks/lower back
  • bottom/”sits bones”
  • ankle bones (sides) and
  • heels.

If your skin is broken, you may require additional care or treatments. Check your skin regularly and report any concerns to your healthcare team.

If you are experiencing any signs of infection, please contact your primary care physician immediately. If you are a participant in the Kandu Stroke Recovery Program, your navigator will assist you with an emergency plan to get the help you need.

To reduce your risk of skin infections, consider:

  • trying to slightly change your position at least every 2 hours
  • changing out of wet clothes as soon as possible
  • using pressure-relieving products on the affected area, and
  • checking your skin daily for signs of redness, heat, and swelling.

Kandu Health offers remote clinical support through our app, stroke survivor community and team of Kandu Navigators. We provide information, resources, and guidance for stroke survivors and their care partners.

Register Today!

Text or call us at 415-384-5623, dial extension 1.

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How Do I know if I am Having a Second Stroke?

Illustration of a stroke survivor with glasses gesturing toward his eye
Illustration of a stroke survivor with glasses gesturing toward his eye

How Do I know if I am Having a Second Stroke?

About 1 in 4 people, 25% who have had a stroke will have another stroke*. It’s important to be able to identify the warning signs.

Citation

Sudha Seshadri, Alexa Beiser, Margaret Kelly-Hayes, Carlos S. Kase, Rhoda Au, William B. Kannel and Philip A. Wolf. Originally published 5 Jan 2006 https://doi.org/10.1161/01.STR.0000199613.38911.b2Stroke. 2006;37:345–350

!

Only a health professional can determine if you are having another stroke. If you are having a new stroke, every second matters. Call 9-1-1 and seek emergency care for a possible stroke if you experience the following symptoms:

BEFAST

Recognize the signs of a stroke

Balance

Illustration of a stroke survivor with a leg brace losing her balance

Sudden loss of balance

Is it suddenly hard to stand up and walk in a straight line without feeling like you might fall? Do you suddenly feel very dizzy?

Eyes

Illustration of a man with glasses pointing at his eyes

Sudden change in vision in one or both eyes

Is it suddenly very hard to see out of one eye? Do you have new double vision?

Face

Illustration of a woman moving her hand towards her face

The face droops on one side

Is your face drooping on one side, especially around your mouth?

Arm

Illustration of a stroke survivor in a wheelchair

New arm weakness or numbness on one side

Do you have a new weakness in your arm?

Speech

Illustration of a stroke survivor with an arm brace talking

New slurred or confused speech

Is your speech slurred or are you not making sense when you try to talk?

Time

Illustration of a woman with a pride flag pin on her top looking at her phone

It’s TIME to call 9-1-1

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms immediately call 911. Do not drive yourself or have someone drive you to the hospital. Time is important. An EMT can get you life-saving treatment the fastest.

Kandu Health offers remote clinical support through our app, stroke survivor community and team of Kandu Navigators. We provide information, resources, and guidance for stroke survivors and their care partners.

Register Today!

Text or call us at 415-384-5623, dial extension 1.

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Three Things You Can Do to Support Your Stroke Recovery

Illustration of a stroke survivor being helped out of a wheelchair by a caregiver
Illustration of a stroke survivor being helped out of a wheelchair by a caregiver

Three Things You Can Do to Support Your Stroke Recovery

What do I do now?

Set Up Your Support System

An important part of stroke recovery is connecting with people who can support you during this process. This may include friends, family, neighbors, and other stroke survivors. Many people do not anticipate being in a position where they need to ask for help and may not be prepared for these situations. You might struggle with knowing where to start when asking someone for help. Recognizing your needs and asking for support is a sign of awareness and strength. Leaning on your community and support system allows you to focus on your recovery. Your support system can help you with everyday activities, such as transportation to appointments, picking up groceries, arranging for meal delivery services, and running other errands.

Illustration of a survivor around her are: extended family and friends, care partner, primary physician, support groups, physical therapist, Kandu navigators, and specialty physicians

Set Up Your Home for Safety

Depending on your needs, you may need to make some adjustments to your home after your stroke. Small changes can prevent a potentially larger problem, such as a fall or the inability to access certain areas of your home. Consider asking a friend or relative to help you with making certain modifications to your home. Many falls happen in the bathroom. You may want to talk with your physical or occupational therapist about strategies to safely use your shower, toilet, and sink. Your Kandu Navigator can also conduct a virtual home safety assessment to identify helpful changes for your living spaces.

To Increase Access and Avoid Falls in Your Home:

  • Remove or secure any loose rugs
  • Put away any objects on the floor
  • Add night lights or lamps to dark areas, so you can see better at night
  • Rearrange your furniture, so it is easier to get from one room to another
  • Keep your frequently used items in the bathroom, kitchen, or within easy reach
  • Install grab bars to use for support when you are sitting down or standing up
  • Install a ramp if you are using a walker or wheelchair, and
  • Remove doors from their hinges to create a wider pathway

Start Rehabilitation

Research has found the brain has the best dial extension 1 chance of recovery in the first three months after a stroke. Many stroke survivors report seeing the most progress when starting therapy as soon as possible after their stroke. This is because of neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to rewire itself.

Recovery looks different for each stroke survivor. Some people recover more quickly, while others need intensive therapies or more time to rest. While some survivors may rebuild many of the abilities from before their stroke, other survivors will need to learn new strategies to accomplish certain tasks.

Maintain an ongoing conversation with your rehabilitation therapy team about your goals and what you want to focus on during therapy. As you take charge of your recovery, you are more likely to improve your skills and abilities.

Kandu Health offers remote clinical support through our app, stroke survivor community and team of Kandu Navigators. We provide information, resources, and guidance for stroke survivors and their care partners.

Register Today!

Text or call us at 415-384-5623, dial extension 1.

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How the Brain is Affected by Stroke

Illustration of a stroke survivor using a walker
Illustration of a stroke survivor using a walker

How the Brain is Affected by Stroke

During a stroke, disruption of the blood flow to the brain causes cell damage and death where the stroke occurred. to the brain causes cell damage and death where the stroke occurred. Neurological pathways between the brain and the body can become disconnected. This causes an interruption of the brain signal that controls certain areas of the body, mind, and emotions.

How recovery happens

Your brain controls your body’s nervous system. It is capable of reorganizing how it processes information after a stroke through neuroplasticity. This means parts of the brain that weren’t damaged during your stroke can make new pathways to improve your brain’s function over time.

Practice is the most important element when training a new part of the brain. New pathways are created over time with hundreds of repetitions. For example, if you want to open a water bottle, you may need to practice gripping small objects over and over, training your brain to do the components of the activity and then work on putting it all together.

Recovery times

Some research shows the brain has the best chance of rebuilding within the first three months after a stroke. Many survivors see the most progress when they start therapy early in the days and weeks following a stroke.

What recovery looks like

Recovery looks different for each person. Some stroke survivors may recover more quickly.

While some survivors may rebuild many of the abilities from before their stroke, other survivors will need to learn new strategies to accomplish certain tasks.

Kandu Health offers remote clinical support through our app, stroke survivor community and team of Kandu Navigators. We provide information, resources, and guidance for stroke survivors and their care partners.

Register Today!

Text or call us at 415-384-5623, dial extension 1.

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You are Recovering From a Stroke, Kandu is Here to Guide You

Illustration of a stroke survivor with a hand brace using her phone to communicate with her Kandu Navigator

You are Recovering From a Stroke, Kandu is Here to Guide You.

We understand having a stroke can be a life-altering event, and you may be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain. You might be asking yourself, “What am I supposed to do next?”. At Kandu, your navigator will provide you one-on-one support and assist you with things like:

Understanding your hospital discharge instructions from your healthcare team

Your Kandu Navigator will help you identify your recovery needs and create a plan to follow your doctor’s instructions

Connecting you with specialists

Your hospital has likely recommended you see other medical professionals or specialists as part of your recovery. Kandu Navigators can assist you in identifying a primary care physician, and other specialists such as rehabilitation, cardiology and neurology.

Recommending resources and supplies

Your Kandu Navigator can help you locate equipment and supplies your healthcare team recommended during your hospital discharge.

Kandu Health offers remote clinical support through our app, stroke survivor community and team of Kandu Navigators. We provide information, resources, and guidance for stroke survivors and their care partners.

Register Today!

Text or call us at 415-384-5623, dial extension 1.

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