A stroke rehabilitation program involves exercise aimed at helping you to relearn certain daily skills that were lost to you when the stroke affected your brain. stroke rehabilitation is aimed at providing you independence as well as improving the quality of your life.
The severity of the complications caused by the stroke as well as the individual’s ability to relearn the lost skills is different for each person. The central nervous system in our body is adaptive and this helps recover some of the lost motor functions. It is however necessary to keep practicing the regained motor-skills regularly.
Stroke Rehabilitation Techniques and Methods
There are several approaches that can be adopted to rehabilitate a person after having suffered a stroke. Although the techniques may vary the common aim of these rehabilitative techniques is to mainly improve the motor-skills in order to achieve normal sensory-motor and cognitive functions.
A stroke rehabilitation program may involve:
Physical Activities –
- Motor-skill strengthening – This involves exercises that help to improve your muscle strength and co-ordination as well as therapy to allow normal swallowing.
- Mobility training – This may involve learning to use walking aids in order to stabilize your limbs and to help improve ankle strength that will help support your body’ weight while you learn to walk un-assisted.
- Constraint-induced therapy – This is also known as ‘force-used therapy’ and involves restricting the use of a normal limb in order to make the affected limb respond better to physical treatments.
- Range-of-motion therapy – This technique involves using exercises and similar treatment methods to help ease the spasticity (muscle tension) and to regain the lost range of motion. Certain medications may also be prescribed alongside this therapy to help improve limb functions.
Technology-assisted Physical Activities –
- Functional electrical stimulation – This therapy requires using electricity in order to stimulate the weakened muscles which cause them to contract. This contraction and relaxation of the affected muscles can help muscle re-education.
- Robotic technology – This therapy involves using robotic devices to help the affected limbs to perform the physiotherapy motions which help the limbs to regain the lost strength and mobility in them.
- Non-invasive Brain Stimulation – This is a fairly modern technique and uses trans-cranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to help improve motor-skills.
Cognitive and Emotional Activities –
- Communication therapy – This therapy is helpful in regaining the lost ability to speak, listen, write and comprehend.
- Psycho-evaluation and treatment – This therapy involves testing the patient’s cognitive skills and emotional adjustment to the treatment, as well as counseling with a mental health professional.
- Medications – These are sometimes used in order to treat depression in people who have suffered from stroke.
Starting Stroke Rehabilitation
Stroke rehabilitation should be started at the earliest possible chance as the doctor advises in order to successfully regain complete motor-skills and other abilities that were lost due to the stroke.
The doctor’s first priority is to stabilize your medical condition and control any life-threatening complications that might arise as a result of the stroke. The doctor will also take every possible precaution to avoid another stroke or a stroke-related complication from arising.
Commonly, stroke rehabilitation is started within the first 1-2 days after the stroke occur, mostly during your acute hospital stay.
Duration of Stroke Rehabilitation Programs
The severity of your stroke and the extent of its related complications mainly decide the amount of time required for you rehabilitation and restoration of normal daily activities. Although, some of the stroke survivors are known to recover faster, most of the stroke victims need a longer rehabilitations program, usually a few months to a couple of years.
The rehabilitation program can change according to your rate of improvement of functioning in terms of exercises as well as duration of the program. It is necessary to keep practicing the physical therapy activities as advised by the physiotherapist in order to retain the learned skills as time passes.
The main factors that decide the length of your stroke rehabilitation program are your rate of recovery, the severity of your symptoms as well as your individual response to the therapies.