Stroke rehabilitation is sometimes an uphill climb. After a stroke, patients can be left with paralysis, especially one-sided paralysis. Pain, as well as sensory deficits, has to be managed. Physiotherapy is a key part of the treatment plan.
Physiotherapists begin stroke rehabilitation very soon after the stroke has occurred, while the patient is still in acute care. The physiotherapist will first do an evaluation to determine what disabilities must be dealt with during stroke rehabilitation.
Some of the possible problems are: lack of strength and endurance, limited range of motion, problems with sensation in the limbs, and troubles walking. Stroke rehabilitation will focus on the problems that the patient displays. A plan for treatment will be devised.
Patients will learn to use limbs that the stroke has made temporarily useless. During stroke rehabilitation, it will be determined whether these limbs will reach their previous potential. If not, the physiotherapist will teach the patients ways to manage without their full use of the limbs.
One problem of stroke rehabilitation is called learned nonuse. This is when stroke patients do everything in their power to avoid using limbs that have been affected by the stroke. If left to their own devices, they will cripple the limb further by letting it atrophy through nonuse.
Physiotherapists use stroke rehabilitation to make sure that patients do indeed work to use their impaired limbs. They can do this in a number of ways. Sometimes it helps for the physiotherapist to tap or stroke the limb they want the patient to use.
If the patient will not easily participate in active range of motion exercises, passive ones can be used where the physiotherapist moves the limb herself. Other times, the patient will try to use the affected limb but will naturally fall back on the limb that is functioning well. In this case, stroke rehabilitation may involve gently restraining the healthy limbs.
It can be a difficult task of stroke rehabilitation to help victims relearn switching from one task to another. This is partly because of problems in the brain. The cues to move the muscles and joints in order to change movements are slow in coming. This is why practice is so important. The more times physiotherapists help a patient with this, the easier it becomes.
Recent studies have revealed that stroke rehabilitation can continue long after the hospital stay. In the past, stroke victims were given a short round of physiotherapy during the time they were in the hospital and for a few weeks shortly afterwards.
New research shows that physiotherapy can promote more advanced stroke rehabilitation if it is continued progressively at home. Patients will learn to walk better. They will gain strength to do daily chores. They will also achieve better posture and more balance, which can prevent falls.
Stroke rehabilitation involves a number of therapies, all designed to restore function to the patient’s affected limbs. Electrical stimulation, hydrotherapy, and games have all been used. Stroke rehabilitation is not complete without the help of physiotherapy services.