Stroke Survivor

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Setting Goals to
Recover from Stroke

How to Overcome Aphasia, Paralysis,
and Attitude Problems
By Paul E. Berger, Stroke Survival Expert

I was 36 when I had my stroke from a ruptured aneurysm in the brain.  I was in the hospital for three months. 

    My stroke left me severely paralyzed on my right side, and with aphasia – loss of speech. My stroke rehabilitation began with relearning the basic life skills, including how to feed and care for myself one-handed.

Speech language pathologists taught me how to swallow and communicate. Occupational therapists worked on rehabilitating my paralyzed arm, and physical therapists on my paralyzed leg. I came home from the hospital in a wheelchair, with only a few words. 

    But I had goals and plans for my stroke rehabilitation and recovery and for enjoying my life.

Here are five steps to set goals to recover after a stroke. They worked for me!

 1. Choose a positive attitude. 
Make being happy and having a positive attitude one of your goals. A positive attitude makes rehabilitation easier for you, your family, and the therapists who work with you.

    Your attitude is your own choice, you can choose to be happy or to be sad. 

Sometimes it is hard to feel happy when you have aphasia, paralysis, and other problems from your stroke.  One thing that improves my attitude is going for a walk (or a ride in your wheelchair) and greeting everyone I see with a smile, a wave, and “hello,” even without words.  When they wave back, I feel great.

2. Take care of your medical needs.
Most stroke survivors also have other medical problems. My stroke paralyzed my throat muscles, causing a swallowing problem and pneumonia. Start rehabilitation as soon as possible, and give yourself the time and effort needed to fight the other medical problems. 

3. Think about your goals.
Stroke rehabilitation is the means to reach your goals, not the end. List all of your goals and dreams. When I was in the hospital, my goals included returning to work in a year, travel, and hobbies. Living a full life for me includes volunteering, going to school, visiting friends and family, and finding new interests.

4.  Set priorities. 
After you have thought about everything that you want to do, focus on one or two key goals. Ask your family to help you set goals for your recovery, and for how you want to live your life after the stroke. I focused on returning to work. 

5. Break your goals into small steps.
Achieving your goals will take time and a lot of team effort from family, rehabilitation professionals, and friends. Ask them to design short term speech therapy, physical therapy, and occupational therapy goals and exercises aimed at the skills and functions you will need to achieve your long term goals.

When you read my books, you will see that I dreamed, set goals, and focused on living a full life.  It was hard overcoming stroke, aphasia, and paralysis.  If I can do it, you can do it, too!


Copyright (c) Paul E. Berger & Stephanie Mensh
Permission is granted to reprint this article
in your newsletter or magazine only with the following byline:
“Paul Berger is a speaker and author.
To find out more about his programs and services,
 or call (703) 241-2375.”


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You are marvels!  I just read the newsletter ... and it is simply priceless (I always read them, and they are all noteworthy, but this one is beyond good.)  Paul, your book is in my book as something that all clinicians should have, read, pass on (ie, make them buy) to their clients.
 -Audrey Holland, Professor Emerita,University of Arizona

I came across your website today and just wanted to congratulate you on providing a helpful resource for stroke survivors and healthcare professionals.
     -Marisca Baldwin, The Pat Arato Aphasia Centre, Toronto,,Canada

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