The importance of self-esteem after a stroke

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  • March 27, 2012

A stroke often robs the stroke victims of their self-esteem, confidence, and functional independence. Functional independence of a stroke victim is hampered by loss of mobility, vision or difficulty in communicating.

Various neurological and psychosocial factors resulting from stroke make it difficult upon the stroke victim to regain his freedom of movement. In order to restore his mobility, the stroke victim undergoes rehabilitation. In the process of trying to improve the stroke victim’s neurological functions, the psychosocial factors that affect the mental ability of the stroke victim after stroke may get neglected. Low self-esteem in the stroke victims may occur due to such neglect of psychosocial factors. It is very pertinent to restore the stroke victim’s self-esteem to improve his participation in and the eventual outcome of rehabilitation treatments.

Attending to the Psychosocial factors of the Stroke Victim

It is suggested that neglecting the stroke victim’s psychosocial attributes not only prolongs the period of recovery, but ultimately tends to hamper the stroke victim’s physical disability even more. Stroke victims suffering from aggravated psychosocial problems incur greater rehabilitation costs for staying in the hospital. While a lot of studies have looked at post-stroke depression, few looked at the level of self-esteem. Behavioural care in stroke patients is influenced by social support and self-esteem. Self worth is often established after reaching adulthood, but critical events or situations, like suffering a stroke, may alter or erode self-esteem. Such alteration in self esteem has to be corrected to avoid falling into a state of emotional disorder, such as depression or anxiety, of which stroke victims to begin with are already prone to experiencing from the stroke itself.

A previously employed productive provider of the family who suddenly becomes unemployed and unable to contribute to the family’s financial stability due to a stroke may have his ego threatened and see himself as a burden. A previously active person who suddenly loses motor function and balance after a stroke may lose confidence and become anxious about doing activities independently. The resulting loss in drive to try one’s best may indeed lead to sub-optimal recovery during the rehabilitation phase. Community reintegration, likewise, becomes difficult.

Correlating Self esteem with Physical illness

Loss of self-esteem and physical illness appears to be a catch-22 that tends to go into a cycle that has to be stopped to prevent a downward spiral. As a stroke victim realizes his physical limitations, his self esteem becomes affected. Yet, the low self-esteem that develops may lead to even poorer recovery and either persistent or worsening physical condition. It is important that family and friends understand the situation and remain patient despite seeming irrationality of the stroke victim. Some self-help techniques that the stroke victim and/or the family and friends can are the following:

1) Suppressing the negativity within:

After a stroke, the victim should be helped in silencing the“negative voice” within.Even while still in the hospital, family members must instill confidence in him, by way of making him do certain things which might help him regain his self esteem. Generally, stroke patients lose determination because of a feeling of being deprived. Constant encouragement and belief in the patient’s ability would be very valuable.

2) Realizing one’s self-worth

The stroke victim’s family and friends are very important in enabling the stroke victim to appraise his self-worth. The stroke victim needs affection and care. Making the victim realize that he remains the same person and is just as loved and wanted and important as how he was before the stroke can certainly help restore his sense of worthiness.

3) Asking help from family members

Often, people who suffer from low self esteem find it extremely hard to digest that they cannot do certain things independently. Such feelings ought to be discarded immediately, with family members and friends showing that helping the stroke victim is not a bother at all..This avoids the stroke victim from feeling of being a burden. However, at the same time, family and friends should avoid doing for the stroke victim things that he could do himself. Such family members and friends may mean well, but are often themselves anxious, and may transmit that same anxiety to the stroke victim. Occasionally, it may also become an easy way out for stroke victims to intentionally remain inactive. It is a balance that sometimes may be difficult to achieve.


One Comment

  • Gabsus says:

    The problem is also the victim, the patient, the human all this is his person. But mental there is the pain, that his body, his brain is not good, he is a disable person. Only to do things in the daily life it is a good sign for him. So the little bit movements he can do and later, are the best thing. For us there is nothing to hold a book in our hands. But this can be for him the target in this moment. So is this successfully feeling for him. I know, he will do, will do the exercises, and he takes energy for this. But to much energy, the movement or exercises are not good, because the muscles will not do the work. They are to tighten and the other side to soft. So he must have to know, what to do. It is like self eestem. And he feel better. I wrote a book Combination Therapy.I am a therapist for a long time.

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