Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Life after a stroke

Strokes can cause weakness or paralysis in one side of the body. Many people also have problems with co-ordination and balance, and suffer from extreme tiredness (fatigue) in the first few weeks after a stroke. They may also have difficulty sleeping, making them even more tired.

As part of your rehabilitation you should be seen by a physiotherapist who will assess the extent of any physical disability before drawing up a treatment plan.

Physiotherapy will normally begin as soon as your medical condition has stabilised. At first, your physiotherapist will work with you by setting goals to improve your posture and balance. As your condition improves, more demanding long-term goals, such as standing or walking, will be set.

A careworker or carer, such as a member of your family, will be encouraged to become involved in your physiotherapy. The physiotherapist can teach you both simple exercises you can carry out at home.

Physiotherapy can sometimes last months or even years.

The specific abilities that will be lost or affected by a stroke depend on the extent of the brain damage and, most importantly, where in the brain the stroke occurred: the right hemisphere (or half), the left hemisphere, the cerebellum or the brain stem. The Stroke Foundation provides a directory for assistance in managing these common issues at strokefoundation.com.au.

The most common problems in daily life are likely to be caused by:

  • weakness or lack of movement (paralysis) in legs or arms
  • shoulder pain
  • trouble swallowing
  • changes to way things are seen or felt (perceptual problems)
  • changes to the way things are felt when touched (sensory problems)
  • problems thinking or remembering (cognitive problems)
  • trouble speaking, reading or writing
  • incontinence
  • feeling depressed
  • problems controlling feelings
  • tiredness.

If you are experiencing anxiety or depression, you should also speak to your doctor.

The team involved in the rehabilitation program will help you and your carer to learn the skills you need to manage your daily life after a stroke.

A carer can provide physical, practical or emotional help to someone after their stroke. And it is beneficial for carers to recieve training to enable full participation, where necessary, in assisting communication between you and other care providers and services, such as support groups or Centrelink. The training will also assist with their involvement in:

  • talking to health professionals about assessments and test results
  • helping to set goals and being involved in treatment decisions
  • joining in with therapy sessions
  • encouraging you to practise exercises and activities suggested by the therapists
  • helping to celebrate progress
  • using a communication book to help them remember things. This can be things like who has visited, which therapists they have seen, what they said, and exercises to practice.

Carers can call StrokeLine to talk to a health professional for free information and advice: 1800 STROKE (787 653).

Some aspects of life to be managed after a stroke

Resuming work

How soon this is possible depends partly on remaining disability, the type of work involved and the feelings about returning to work. Some people feel quite tired after a stroke, and have difficulty carrying out any kind of physical activity for any length of time. Part-time work, at least in the early stages, may be a good idea. Unless the stroke has reduced awareness of impairment, it is probable that the person who had the stroke is the best judge of when to return to work or getting back to the regular activities in your life. 

Driving

Even someone who appears to have made a full recovery after a stroke should not drive a car for at least a month as the risk of another stroke is greatest at this time. To drive again involves being cleared by your doctor, who will be aware of relevant government regulations. The stroke may have left subtle impairments, not always apparent, such as poor co-ordination, lack of awareness on one side, difficulties in judging distance, changes in vision, difficulties in concentration and confusion between left and right.

Sexual activity

Resuming of sexual activity after a stroke is encouraged. Most couples experience some difficulty in their sex life after a stroke, but this is usually due to psychological factors rather than any disability caused by a stroke.  A doctor can advise on how to get help for psychological problems and other difficulties such as erectile problems in men.

Sport and exercise

Physical activity and hobbies are important parts is an important part of rehabilitation - normal activity should be resumed as soon as physically possible.

Drinking alcohol

The intake of excessive amounts of alcohol should be avoided after a stroke as it may interact adversely with medication, raise blood pressure and affect judgement resulting in injury. Moderate consumption (two standard drinks per day) should not cause any problem.

Sources: Brain Foundation (Stroke), NHS Choices, UK (Stroke - Recovery)

Not sure what to do next?

If you are still concerned about stroke, check your symptoms with healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.

The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).

Last reviewed: September 2015

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 29 results

Early treatment after a stroke Stroke Foundation - Australia

Information about stroke

Read more on Stroke Foundation website

Depression and anxiety after stroke

Having a stroke can result in many changes. On a physical level, it can lead to people finding it difficult to move and swallow. Having a stroke can also cause stress, worry and sadness, and affect the way in which people think and feel. There is a strong link between depression, anxiety and stroke.

Read more on beyondblue website

Treatment for stroke Stroke Foundation - Australia

Information about stroke

Read more on Stroke Foundation website

Childhood stroke Stroke Foundation - Australia

Information about stroke

Read more on Stroke Foundation website

Ischaemic stroke blocked artery Stroke Foundation - Australia

Information about stroke

Read more on Stroke Foundation website

Effects of stroke Stroke Foundation - Australia

Information about stroke

Read more on Stroke Foundation website

What to do while you wait for an ambulance Stroke Foundation - Australia

Information about stroke

Read more on Stroke Foundation website

Brain Foundation | Stroke

Stroke Stroke Stroke is a medical emergency

Read more on Brain Foundation website

Medication and surgery Stroke Foundation - Australia

Information about stroke

Read more on Stroke Foundation website

Defuse Stroke Stroke Foundation - Australia

Information about stroke

Read more on Stroke Foundation website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback