How Physical Therapy Can Help Stroke Survivors

How Physical Therapy Can Help Stroke Survivors

Nobody is prepared for a stroke. This often-catastrophic health event can cause partial paralysis, motor impairments, blindness, and loss of sensation, all varying in severity. In any combination, these can incapacitate a person and leave them 100% reliant on others for their basic needs. Of the approximately 795,000 Americans who have a stroke every year, many have a substantial recovery, especially if they get early treatment. How any stroke victim is affected depends on the location and size of the brain bleed, as well as the patient’s overall health.

What Is a Stroke?

A stroke, sometimes called a “brain attack,” is similar to a heart attack. Strokes usually occur as a result of a blood clot forming and blocking blood flow to the brain. Without a constant supply of oxygenated blood, the brain cells begin to die within minutes, causing permanent brain damage. Brain cell damage is almost always permanent, because even a brief interruption of blood to the brain can kill brain cells.

If you suspect you or someone you know is having a stroke, remember to act “F-A-S-T” and look for these tell-tale signs of a stroke:

  • F – Facial drooping
  • A – Arm weakness
  • S – Speech problems
  • T – Time (a reminder to immediately call 9-1-1 for transportation to the hospital)

What Does Stroke Rehabilitation Involve?

In the early stages of stroke recovery, it can be upsetting to see your loved one struggle to speak, move, or understand you. All hope is not lost, though. In some patients, brain cells are only temporarily impaired. As many as 10% of stroke patients experience full recovery.

Stroke recovery should begin as soon as the patient is stable, usually within 48 hours. Once early recovery is complete, the patient may be transferred either to a long-term care facility with skilled nurses, return home with home health services, or go to outpatient therapy for treatment.

Physical therapy for stroke care focuses on helping patients regain as much function as possible so they can live independently. A certified physical therapist specializes in treating disabilities related to motor impairments and focuses on helping patients achieve normal movement. For stroke patients coming to ProFysio for physical therapy, our physical therapists will assess the patients’ strength, sensory deficits, range of motion, gait abnormalities, and more to create a customized physical therapy regimen. The patient’s care will focus on encouraging the use of impaired limbs, or teaching compensatory strategies to cope with physical limitations. It may even be possible for stroke survivors to regain use of an impaired limb, as it encourages brain plasticity and helps reduce the associated disability.

Stroke rehabilitation requires a multidisciplinary approach for optimal outcomes, as strokes are complex medical conditions. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke recommends a team of specialists, including physicians, neurologists, physiatrists, rehabilitation nurses, occupational/recreational therapists, speech/language pathologists, and vocational therapists, as well as physical therapists.

Have you or a loved one had a stroke that requires physical therapy for recovery? Contact us at (732) 812-5200 to schedule your appointment.

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