There are 2 main reasons for the belief about the 6 month deadline. Partly it’s rooted in out-of-date theories about how the brain works and also because many doctors and other health professionals who deal with strokes don’t often see the patients who’ve made longer-term progress.
The NHS does not have the resources to provide long-term treatment for stroke patients, so treatment tends to be very much focused on the initial period after a stroke. However, this very unhelpful belief, puts a lot of pressure on patients in hospital who are struggling to come to terms with having had a stroke but who can already hear the clock ticking away. It also discourages people from reaching their recovery potential because they think that further treatment will bring no benefit.
Progress after a stroke doesn’t come easily and always requires hard work and commitment, so it’s important not to give false hope. This can be just as destructive. A patient’s progress is dependent on many factors, apart from the amount and quality of rehabilitation treatment, such as:
- The severity of the stroke
- The amount of time that has passed since the stroke happened
- The patient’s determination to improve, with their willingness and ability to do home exercises
- The support of a spouse and/or family members.
It’s also important to realise that a stroke is a potentially deteriorating condition. If the stroke has been severe and a person doesn’t have continuing treatment, then they may well get stiffer and their movement repertoire is likely to decrease. Elderly people who have had a stroke may also become less mobile as a function of their increasing age.
At heads up! we treat everyone as an individual, working with our patients to create tailored treatment programmes. We are also here for continual, support, advice, information and encouragement.