Stroke recovery is different for every person. After someone survives a stroke their recovery starts day one and can continue for several years. The severity of the stroke impacts how a person’s recovery will go. Recovery after stroke starts with making goals with your physical, social, and emotional aspects of your life. You will make changes to your life to prevent additional strokes along with focusing on life long recovery. Patients and caregivers will have to understand that the recovery is slow and unpredictable. No one can really map out how a person will truly recover from a stroke because the way our brain heals is so complex. Medical professionals such as doctors, nurses, and therapists can make only an educated guess of how a person will recover based on the location and severity of the stroke.
Support from family and friends is a huge component during the recovery process. They give the person a sense of belonging to the world and purpose to life they had prior to the stroke. Patients who are recovering from a stroke need to feel connected more than ever to help increase the motivation to push through the hardest moments of their rehabilitation process. Family involvement also allows for better education and training to happen so the patient can return home when medically appropriate. Doctors, nurses, and therapist can train the family/caregivers in how to best care for the patient so they can return to their home environment safely.
Stroke rehab will help increase recovery allowing a person to get back to living a full life. Rehabilitation focuses on high intensity repetitions which drive the key term of neuroplasticity which doctors and therapist focus on. Through rehab you’ll focus on learning new skills or relearning old skills. The biggest skills that are important to relearn after a stroke are motor skill learning, mobility skills, cognitive training and activities of daily living.
Occupational, Physical, and Speech therapist focus on intensity exercises that will set a person up for success in relearning these important skills. A patient will start experiencing stroke rehabilitation as soon as they become medically stable in the hospital to increase the recovery process. The biggest factors for people in the recovery process are time and intensity.
What can a patient expect to see during stroke rehabilitation?
During the therapy process you can expect to see things involving physical and technology-assisted physical activities.
Physical Activities may include but not limited to:
- Motor-Skill Exercises that focus on improving muscle strength and conditioning. An example of this would be a speech therapist doing swallowing exercises to increase patient’s ability to eat.
- Mobility Training that teaches a patient to relearn how to walk again along with learning to use mobility aids such as a cane, walker, wheelchair or ankle/knee braces. After having a stroke a patient may experience drop foot and need an ankle foot orthosis to help correct the deficit.
- Constraint-Induced Therapy which takes the unaffected limb and restrains it while you practice functional movements with your affected limb. This type of therapy helps force a patient to use their affected limb instead of forgetting about it.
- Range of Motion Therapy provides exercises and treatments to help address increase muscle tone and spasticity to increase functional range of motion. Examples that patients may see are hemi slides for the upper extremity using a towel/sheet on a table top.
Technology-Assisted Therapy include but not limited to:
- Functional Electrical Stimulation can help stimulate weak muscles to promote a contraction which will help with muscle re-education.
- Robotic Technology will help impaired limbs perform repetitive motions helping increase muscle re-education for functional gains.
- Wireless Technology helps monitor post stroke activity to allow a patient to see the functional movement they have.
- Virtual Reality Technology uses video games and other computer based activities that allow patients to interact with simulated or real time activities within their environment.
These are just a few things a patient may experience during their rehabilitation process. The best advice for a person who has survived a stroke is to seek high intensity therapy as quickly as possible. This will increase the chances of living life to the fullest. As you come to understand the best options for you or a loved one’s rehab journey, don’t miss the opportunity to check out Neofect Home Rehab Solutions. Neofect Home Rehab products are clinically proven to improve hand and arm functionality at home with fun and engaging activities.
- Ashley Gatewood, OTR/LAshley is an occupational therapist and health writer based out of Richmond, VA. Ashley has seven years of experience across multiple practice settings and is currently working in adult home health.