Physiotherapy for Stroke Rehabilitation
After a stroke, rehabilitation is often necessary to help the brain relearn certain skills. It often includes various activities and therapies (such as physiotherapy) that help the brain adapt to any injury that the stroke has caused. Over time, you can create new brain pathways, which allow you to use different parts of the brain to do the same sorts of things you were doing before the stroke occurred.
At Muscle Joint Bone, we are firm believers in using physiotherapy as a part of stroke rehabilitation. Our team of experienced physiotherapists love to help stroke patients regain their function, independence, and quality of life. Please contact us for more personalised advice.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke is what happens when blood flow to the brain is compromised. This can occur due to a blocked blood vessel cutting off supply to a region of the brain (known as an ischaemic stroke) or as a result of a blood vessel in the brain bleeding (known as a haemorrhagic stroke). No matter the cause, if blood flow isn’t quickly restored, brain cells can begin to die off (which leads to permanent damage in the affected area).
Most stroke patients will recover to at least some degree with timely (and high-quality) medical care, but many will go on to experience issues that affect their ability to perform everyday activities.
How Does a Stroke Affect the Body?
The ways that a stroke may affect the body generally depend on where in the brain it occurs and how large of an area has been affected. Some of the common functional and neurological issues that occur after a stroke include:
- Weakness or loss of movement (known as paralysis) in the arms or legs (usually down just one side of the body)
- Changes in sensation (such as such as tingling, numbness, and loss of feeling)
- Changes to perception (the way things are seen or felt)
- Difficulty swallowing and/or speaking
- Difficulty reading and/or writing
- Trouble with thinking and memory
- Changes in mood (such as feeling depressed or anxious)
- Issues with vision (such as double vision)
- Trouble with balance
- Shoulder pain, nerve pain, and/or headaches
- Trouble controlling emotions
How Can Physiotherapy Help After a Stroke?
After a stroke has occurred, you will usually see dramatic recovery over the first few days as the swelling in the brain reduces. Recovery will continue for the next few months as healthy nerves in the brain adapt to take on some of the functions that nerves damaged by the stroke used to perform. This is a process known as ‘neuroplasticity’.
Stroke rehabilitation is aimed at maximising the patient’s functional capacity and independence and involves a team of health professionals, including physiotherapists. A physio’s role is to help improve how stroke patients sit, stand, walk, and use their arms. They work on things that are important for movement (such as balance, coordination, endurance, muscle strength, range of motion, and sensation).
Rehabilitation can be split into three phases:
Early (acute) phase
In the early days after a stroke, the patient is likely to remain in hospital. Many people have trouble with moving around and changing positions, so a physio may assist with some positioning advice (to reduce limb swelling, the risk of skin damage, and shoulder subluxation). They may also help get the patient up and moving – it’s recommended that this occur within 24 to 48 hours after a stroke to better support recovery.
Rehabilitation can be completed in either a rehab centre or at home with the support of a therapy team. The first thing a physio will do is set some recovery goals for the patient. This may include things like learning to walk again or learning to dress themselves. The physio will then help the patient and their support people (family and/or caregivers) to work towards achieving these goals. This will involve working on a variety of areas:
- Gait and mobility training
- Recovery of balance
- Recovery of arm function
- Spasticity management
- Cardiorespiratory training
Long-term (chronic) phase
Long-term management involves reducing the likelihood of the patient having another stroke, as well as continuing to work on the areas outlined above to improve function and reduce disability. Physios play an important role in helping patients make lifestyle changes that lower the risk of stroke reoccurring (such as strategies to increase their physical activity levels and maintain a healthy weight).
Choose Muscle Joint Bone for Support with Stroke Rehabilitation
It’s an incredibly trying time when you or a loved one has experienced a stroke, so it’s essential that you have the right sort of support on the road to recovery. The experienced physiotherapists at Muscle Joint Bone can tailor a management plan that targets the areas you or your loved one are struggling with following a stroke and will support you in reaching these goals. Get in touch with our helpful team today to further discuss your situation.