The brain is amazing and the strength and resilience of the human psyche is equally as amazing. In writing this book, I hoped to provide a framework for understanding the stages and process of recovery to inspire stroke survivors and their families to move along the path of recovery. There will be highs, lows and plateaus. It is a long path, but the resilience of the human spirit never ceases to amaze me.
It is not at all uncommon to hear a doctor or other health care provider tell families that most recovery takes place in the first six months. That is true, but most of the swelling and irritation of the brain decreases allowing the brain to recover some function. Also, in the first few months, patients tend to have the most intensive rehab.
Unfortunately, too many survivors are told that they have reached a “plateau” in their recovery. Often it sounds like a bad word – like something terrible has happened. Nobody wants to hear that they have “plateaued”!
This can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy: “Since improvement is not expected, let’s not work toward more improvement.”
To this I say, BUNK!! Our knowledge base has increased, the tools available for rehabilitation have proliferated, and our society has come to expect more.
A plateau is not a bad thing. A plateau is a point in the recovery when the nervous system has reached a stable state. The nervous system is consolidating its’ learning and preparing for the next stage of recovery.
This book summarizes a series of lectures that I have presented for many years to health care professionals. I have found that they listen with great intent but then do not share the information with the people who need it the most – stroke survivors and their families. So, with in writing this book, I wanted to help people to understand the process of recovery and to provide them with resources to direct their own recovery. I wanted to engage the reader in a conversation, to empower them with information, and to provide hope and inspiration.