Fatigue after stroke: manifestations and strategies

Disabil Rehabil. 2012;34(8):665-70. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2011.615373. Epub 2011 Oct 13.


Purpose: To describe how fatigue is experienced by stroke survivors, how they understand and deal with fatigue and how fatigue impacts their daily life.

Method: A qualitative interview study was carried out as part of a larger longitudinal study investigating the prevalence, characteristics and contributing factors to post-stroke fatigue. Thirty-two participants (15 men and 17 women) were strategically sampled to explore the experiences of fatigue. Participants were interviewed at 6 months, 1 year and 2 years post-stroke. Data were analysed applying a Grounded theory approach.

Results: Patients clearly described and differentiated their experience between: (1) tiredness as an ordinary life event and (2) fatigue as a post-stroke life condition. Three fatigue-transforming strategies were identified, being on a mission, settling for less and stalling. Stalling seemed to put the stroke survivors in a particularly vulnerable situation. Over time, some participants moved between these two tiredness/fatigue manifestations and their range of strategies.

Conclusions: Post-stroke fatigue is a new life experience different from ordinary tiredness and seems to be a significant problem in the stroke survivors' struggle to regain a new normalcy. Intervention studies are needed to reduce the impact of post-stroke fatigue on coping and recovery.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology*
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / psychology*
  • Fatigue / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Qualitative Research
  • Recovery of Function
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stroke / complications
  • Stroke / psychology*
  • Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Survivors / psychology*