Healing from stroke has a hierarchy. The upper joints recover before the lower joints, and the leg recovers before the arm because it has the benefit of weight-bearing. So far, my recovery has followed this conventional wisdom. Where my experience has not aligned with medical lore has been in the timelines. My expectations and those of my family were that I would recover more quickly.
In the beginning my "failure" to meet recovery "deadlines" worried me. But I have since come to disregard the neurologists quoting statistics on the diagnostic front: Eighty percent of my recovery will occur within the first three months? NONSENSE!
I am continuing to make steady progress in my 16th month. Therapists and survivors with experience say that recovery continues for years. I hold onto these truths, and try to have faith that the comparative riches of movement and feeling in my upper limbs will trickle down to my struggling fingers and toes.
Here are some of my real-life milestones to the best of my recollection:
Week 3 — bend knee while lying on belly
Month 11 — bend knee with some regularity while walking
Month 15 — walk without brace
Month 1 — move shoulder joint
Month 4 — straighten elbow with effort
Month 7 — hold full weight in crawl position
Month 10 — hang onto moving bars on cardio machines
Month 13 — open fingers in relaxed position (index/thumb inconsistent)