Managing what can't be prevented

A stroke comes with a lot of baggage, the clinical team will help reduce the load

Impaired swallow

A swallow assessment should be carried out within a few hours of diagnosis. If swallow is impaired then the speech and language therapist will advise on what is safe to eat. This often involves altering the consistency of foods. 

 

Thickener can be used to make foods easier to swallow. Eating small amounts more regularly is another strategy. Being sat up while eating also reduces the risk of aspiration. 

 

A lot of people recover a safe swallow, although this is less likely if there has been little overall recovery.  

Managing mood

Low mood is a natural response after having something as debilitating as a stroke. Mood may well improve over time as function improves and after returning home. 

 

The problem is that low mood can limit engagement with therapy. Anti-depressants may help maximise recovery potential.

Constipation

Laxatives are commonly prescribed to get things going. They work by drawing more water into the bowel or encouraging it to contract, moving poo along. 

 

Pain

There are two types of pain that can occur after stroke. The first is musculoskeletal pain, something that we’ve all experienced and is often relieved by the humble paracetamol.

 

The other type of pain is neuropathic. This is caused by damage to the nerves involved in carrying information about pain and sensation. Drugs like pregabalin and amitriptyline can treat neuropathic pain - these have several side effects and should be used with caution. 

 

Spasticity

Spasticity occurs when there is excessive involuntary muscle contraction. Stretching of a muscle and its tendons can ease spasticity. A botox injection may be necessary to prevent contractures, where a muscle is fixed in a particular position. 

This information should not substitute that provided by your medical team. They have the benefit of working with the person that you care about.

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