Cerebral infarction, stroke and fatigue: chronic or curable?

After a cerebral infarction, stroke or CVA (Cerebro Vascular Accident), a frequently heard complaint is fatigue. This fatigue does decrease due to spontaneous recovery, but can result in a long-term if not chronic complaint. The person in question must then learn to live with less energy, with being tired all the time. But there is no need to accept chronic fatigue before trying a number of possible therapies, such as light therapy, physiotherapy, acupuncture and shiatsu massage.

What is a cerebral infarction?

In the case of a cerebral infarction, a blood clot has formed in the body and has entered the brain via the blood. The blood clot may come from a clogged jugular vein or be caused by an (as yet unknown) heart condition. Due to the blood clot, a certain area of the brain has not had (proper) blood flow and has temporarily not been supplied with oxygen or insufficiently. This means that this spot in the brain becomes damaged. Depending on the location in the brain and the duration of the blockage of the vein or vein, the damage to the body can vary greatly in severity. Not only does the severity of the condition vary, but the conditions themselves can also vary widely. For example, your speech can be damaged. Or the musculoskeletal system is damaged. For example, you can become paralyzed on one side.

What can you do about fatigue after a cerebral infarction or stroke?

A cerebral infarction can have a very complex set of consequences and therefore requires a multidisciplinary approach. But this brain disease almost always causes fatigue or, in other words, reduced energy. At the beginning of the recovery process, which can take up to one or sometimes even two years, you often need extra sleep or at least extra rest. In any case, you have to accept that fatigue and deal with it. The body indicates this automatically. But what happens next, if that fatigue does not decrease or goes away?

Regular methods to try to limit or manage fatigue

Ways in which you can recover from this fatigue are still being researched. You can already find tips on the Brain Foundation website. These tips are quite obvious and unfortunately, after applying them, you will not get rid of your fatigue just yet. The tips are about sleeping well, exercising (but not too fanatically), communicating (continuing to explain to others what your limitations – still – are and asking for help) and relaxing. Largely tips that are healthy for everyone or applicable to any limiting illness.

Alternative methods to try to limit fatigue after a stroke or cerebral infarction

Fortunately, there are alternative methods that are worth a try. Even though these methods have not been scientifically investigated specifically in relation to a CVA or stroke. For some people, a certain therapy may be more suitable or work better than another therapy. Choose what appeals to you. And if one therapy doesn’t work, you can try another. Although you will sometimes have to take a break in between. For example, if you are too tired or discouraged to switch to a different approach.

Physiotherapy

Although physiotherapy is not an alternative medicine, it does offer an alternative method that can be applied. Whether physiotherapy limits fatigue in this case is still being investigated. The essence is to improve the condition through physiotherapy. The disadvantage of this is that in order to improve their condition, someone with fatigue must first go slightly beyond their fatigue limit. Quite disheartening if your complaint is fatigue itself. You must always ignore your own physical limit in order to be able to push that limit. However, it could help if you practice in a group, with fellow sufferers.
Moreover, you do not need to undergo special physiotherapy to improve your condition. You can simply go for a walk (if the mobility of your legs is not limited by the stroke). Continue walking steadily and then go a little further. A physiotherapist is not required for this. It can also be much more motivating to always walk a different route or a route with a fun goal. Or more often the same fun route, but a little faster. If you can find a fellow sufferer or a group of fellow sufferers, it will be even more pleasant. You can also expect a reward. You walk to a place where you can eat and drink something tasty (and healthy) and you immediately take a rest. For example, a garden center such as Intratuin: there you can treat yourself to a smoothie and read a luxury magazine such as ‘Landleven’. Recharged, you walk home at march pace.

Classic massage

Classical massage is relaxing and can make someone more energetic. But relaxation can also release fatigue.
This can help you if it encourages you to rest. However, it can also be discouraging if the first reaction to the massage is (even greater) fatigue. Always look for a certified and recognized masseur because of their expertise and reliability.

Light therapy

Light therapy is generally used for people with seasonal depression. But nowadays it is also recommended as part of therapy for non-seasonal depression. Light therapy, which can also be applied at home in less serious cases using various light therapy lamps, can, in addition to improving mood, also make a positive contribution to improving energy. You can simply ‘google’ the terms ‘light therapy’, ‘light therapy lamp’ and ‘depression’.
Fatigue and mood both improve at the same time
The advantage of this approach is that the fatigue from the stroke often also has an unfavorable effect on your mood. Perhaps not only will your energy improve, but your mood will improve as well. A CVA is guaranteed to affect your emotions and you have to relate to that. When you are in a better mood, you can also tolerate, manage and perhaps ‘fight’ your fatigue better.
Sunlight: the best light therapy
If it is sunny outside, then ‘grabbing’ sunlight is the best ‘light therapy’. The light from therapy lamps tries to approximate daylight as closely as possible. You also receive free extra oxygen and vitamin D, which is produced by your skin under the influence of the sun.

Acupuncture

Therapy through acupuncture is based on the idea that so-called meridians run in our body.
Needles are used to influence various organs in our body at certain points of these meridians. The theory behind it is that stimulating these points can remove blockages in our body and therefore improve our energy. Here too, of course, you should look for an expert and recognized acupuncturist.

Shiatsu therapy

Therapy through shiatsu is related to the acupuncture approach. This is also based on the idea that there are meridians in our body. The underlying therapy assumes that the disturbed energy balance in our body is restored by the pressure of the massage on certain points of the meridians. Even if you want to try Shiatsu massage, it is good to find a certified Shiatsu therapist.

Conclusion

Don’t give up too quickly on trying to improve your energy through various (alternative) medicines. Improving fatigue after a stroke may also cost energy, but it is definitely worth a try!

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  • CVA/cerebral infarction and dealing with fatigue
  • Cerebral infarction / CVA: fatigue and emotions, with tips
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