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Book Review

By David Wasielewski

 

 

Stronger After Stroke: Your roadmap to recovery

by Peter G. Levine

 

Regular readers of this newsletter have seen reviews of numerous stroke related books. There are many volumes documenting personal stories of stroke and survivors’ struggles through rehabilitation and recovery. Many also include directly and indirectly the stories of caregivers and their experiences with stroke. Of the many volumes written about stroke recovery, this book: “Stronger After Stroke: Your Roadmap to Recovery” by Peter Levine is, by far, the best recovery reference manual I have encountered to date.

 

The book is well organized, clearly written in terms that survivors and caregivers without previous stroke knowledge can easily understand. The author explains, in no uncertain terms, the incredible work and commitment required in order to manage through the process of recovery. The mental and physical efforts are clearly defined. He explains to the reader the physical aspects of stroke, how the mechanisms of the muscles and their control center, the brain, can be damaged by a stroke.

 

The challenge of rewiring the brain to achieve recovery is explained. The mechanism of neuroplasticity is clarified for the reader. The need to relearn tasks and how to replace the control circuits in the nervous system is explained. The reality of spasticity and its unique challenges is outlined along with strategies for overcoming this condition.

 

The author offers a reasonable summary of the major therapeutic strategies used in our rehabilitation centers. The reader learns the difference between the most common rehabilitation strategies and less common techniques like Constraint Induced Therapy (CIT), mirror therapy, speaking musically and bilateral therapy. He explains when it might be appropriate to explore each alternative.

 

Concepts like the familiar ‘plateau’ are discussed. Why is this concept popular and how should it be viewed by the survivor and caregivers in the midst of therapy? The four stages of stroke recovery are outlined (hyper-acute, acute, sub-acute and chronic) along with appropriate therapies for each.

 

Therapeutic aids are examined. The role that electrical stimulation (e-stim) can play in recovery is explained. New technologies are detailed, with references to appropriate equipment and sources.

 

Each concept the author explores is clearly explained along with its potential role in recovery. Appropriate Considerations and cautions are included in each chapter. Most discussions conclude with a section ‘What precautions should be taken.’

 

Finally, the author continually stresses the role of the survivor and caregiver in the process. The importance of managing your recovery, its speed and trajectory. He suggests appropriate strategies for managing therapists and medical experts as they provide assistance and the importance of an often overlooked Home Exercise Program to the recovery process.

 

This reference manual offers pertinent information for each unique survivor and sets the advice within the context of one’s lifestyle and recovery goals. The role of fatigue, the ability or necessity of returning to work post stroke, the unique challenges and advantages of being a Young Adult Stroke Survivor (YASS). I particularly appreciated his definition of young as anyone under 55 years old! He recognizes that recovery from stroke is not ‘one size fits all’. He offers advice and strategies from which the reader can choose.

 

Despite having read many other books on stroke recovery I found much here that was new and interesting. The author explained several conditions in ways I had not previously considered and provided new therapeutic suggestions for me to consider despite being almost 9 years post-stroke. The book is a must read for any survivor or caregiver looking for advice on how to manage through a recovery and should be included in any survivor’s reference library.

 

Read about and order on Amazon

 

 

 

Copyright@December 2013

The Stroke Network, Inc.

P.O. Box 492 Abingdon, Maryland 21009

All rights reserved.