Why post-stroke physiotherapy is fundamental to recovery
Having a stroke breaks vital connections between your brain and your muscles, which is why it is the leading cause of long-term disability and almost always results in some loss of mobility and movement.
However, this loss isn’t necessarily permanent. In fact, rehabilitation is especially crucial during the early stages of recovery, when patients have little to no control over their affected muscles.
No matter where you are in your journey toward recovery, your long-term progress will depend on a consistent physiotherapy regime. Learn why physiotherapy for strokes is so helpful for stroke survivors, and what to look for as you select a facility and seek out services for stroke survivors.
What is the Purpose of Post-Stroke Physiotherapy?
Stroke often causes paralysis on one side of the body, which means patients lose function in one arm and one leg. In the first weeks and months of recovery, physical therapists work with stroke survivors to keep these muscles toned and stimulated, even before they regain voluntary movement. If and when function does return, physical therapy allows patients to relearn everyday skills and retrain their healthy brain cells to control the affected body parts. This is part of the various services offered for stroke recovery including occupational therapy, rehabilitation nursing and speech therapy.
As soon as oxygen is restored to your brain after stroke, your body and brain begin a long process of recovering from brain damage and loss of muscle function. Post-stroke rehabilitation is a huge part of this recovery process, and it often begins as early a 24 hours after stroke. Stroke physiotherapists are able to stimulate affected muscles and nerves to maintain circulation and prevent stiffness, then guide patients through the stages of stroke recovery as they relearn basic muscle movements.
Physiotherapists know how to help patients relearn complex bodily movements and avoid complications that could derail their progress later. After stroke, improving your balance, coordination, and other basic skills is essential to your overall quality of life.
What will happen when I see a physiotherapist?
Your first session with a physio will include a detailed assessment. From this, the physio will create a personal rehabilitation programme for you that meets your needs. With support from the physio, you will be encouraged to set your own goals, wherever possible. They may use a range of treatments to aid your recovery.
So that your physio can have a good look at how you move, they may need you to remove some clothes. It’s a good idea to have comfortable clothing and suitable underwear. Everything you tell the physiotherapist will be completely confidential.
When Do You Need Physiotherapy?
Before you even leave the hospital, you should know which physiotherapist or rehabilitation program you want to assist you with your stroke recovery. Your doctors will know what’s best for your body after a stroke, so make sure you review all your discharge plans very carefully and consult your medical team about your rehabilitation plan. Your neurologist will refer you to a physiotherapy program or rehabilitation facility based on your immediate physical needs and complication risks.
Some rehabilitation programs are more rigorous than others, so your ideal therapy setting will depend on your individual symptoms and lifestyle requirements. Motor and sensory impairments are very common after stroke, but your recovery odds increase if you receive the appropriate stimulation and support for your stroke-impaired limbs.
Physiotherapy for strokes typical has custom plans to fit each individual stroke survivor. During your first appointment with the therapist, they will thoroughly examine your body, consult your doctor’s notes, and interview you or your loved ones about your symptoms and setbacks so far. This will allow them to develop a plan that’s right for you, focusing on restoring movement and preventing problems that may occur after stroke.
Your physiotherapy regime will revolve around specific goals, which you and your therapist will work together to set and work toward.
For example, physiotherapists begin with the most basic tasks and movements, such as safely moving from a bed to a chair while protecting your impaired arms from injury. They will gradually progress to exercises and tasks that improve balance, help you relearn basic coordination skills, and retrain your brain to perform functional tasks such as grasping objects and walking.
At PCA, we provide a variety of rehabilitation activities. For more information on referrals, take a look at our website or call 0813 028 0496.
Top tips for stroke care
Your recovery from a stroke will take time, try to be patient with yourself and pace your activities
There may be changes in your emotions, don’t be afraid to ask for help to cope with feelings such as sorrow, frustration or anger
Keep motivated and practice movements and activities as advised by your physio
Ask about what services are available in your area
Stroke support groups can provide social contact, as well as help to cope with your condition
Stay healthy and enjoy the best quality of life you can.