What is Stroke Rehabilitation?
Stroke rehabilitation consists of different physical or cognitive exercises that help stroke patients strengthen neurological functions and recover from neurological deficits.
The goal of rehabilitation therapy is to adapt to your new life and regain as much independence as possible. Rehabilitation is a key process in stroke recovery and should be carefully planned to fit your specific needs. The most significant recovery is achieved in the first three months following the stroke, so it is essential to start your therapy as soon as possible.
Clinical trials have shown that when taken in the six months following the stroke NeuroAiD™ stroke treatment more than doubles the chances of reaching independence. NeuroAiD™ creates a favorable neurological environment, which associated with rehabilitation therapy, increases the of motor and cognitive disabilities. Stroke patients using NeuroAiD™ during their rehabilitation program achieve better recovery. Individual reports on patients taking NeuroAiD™ and testimonials have also recorded many cognitive improvements in speech and vision, as well as reduction of spasticity and improvement of gait.
Rehabilitation is commonly divided into three phases: the acute, subacute, and chronic phase. During each phase, stroke survivors work on regaining different abilities, with different types of therapies and therapists involved.
Medical professionals involved in stroke rehabilitation
Stroke therapy is about regaining as much independence as possible. Stroke patients may not completely recover from their physical disabilities and may follow substitution therapy to compensate for permanent impairment.
Physical therapists—or PTs—work on your motor disabilities, spasticity, or pain. They set up different exercises to develop your strength, your endurance, and your mobility. You will relearn how to walk, move your arm, and regain control of spastic limbs. During physical therapy, changes occur in the central nervous system, and the brain learns how to control the lost functions. Physical therapy is hard and tiring, and patients usually have an hour of therapy every day. However, the harder you work, the more likely you are to regain independence. Therapists will also advise you on how to practice these exercises alone or how to benefit from them when you go back home.
Occupational therapists—OTs—will help you perform common tasks, such as dressing, eating, or going to the bathroom. OTs will not only make you practice everyday movements, but they will also teach you how to compensate for your deficits. You will learn how to dress using only one hand and keep your balance with an impaired leg. Occupational exercises are a great opportunity to apply what you learn in physical therapy.
Speech therapy is extremely broad and deals with all types of cognitive disabilities. Therapists will treat communication disorders (such as aphasia), as well as deglutition, hearing impairments, or memory disorders. When treating aphasia, it is more efficient to work with varied forms of communication (reading, drawing, music, facial expressions, and voice tone). You will learn how to place your tongue to pronounce words properly, recognize words, and associate words with pictures. Speech therapists will also strengthen throat muscles and work on your memory.
Stroke rehabilitation techniques
Several tests are used to diagnose spasticity. These tests estimate your arm and leg movements, muscular activity, and range of motion. Based on your results, therapists will set up an appropriate treatment plan, combining physical exercises as well as medicine. Stretching is a basic exercise to help you maintain a full range of motion and prevent permanent muscle shortening. Aside from exercises, braces can help you hold a muscle in a normal position to keep it from contracting.
Exercises to regain mobility
Many stroke survivors are left with physical disabilities that force them to lead a sedentary lifestyle. Physical exercises can help them regain some mobility, endurance, or strength and improve balance or coordination, which benefits them psychologically. These exercises will also help to prevent a secondary stroke.
Stem cell therapy
Stem cells are unspecialized cells. Because their function in the body is not yet defined, it is possible to use them wherever needed, to regenerate other defective cells or body tissues. Stem cell therapy is much like guiding the body so it heals itself. Though still controversial, stem cell therapy has been used after body amputations, for revival of kidney function or to treat cancer and leukemia. Scientists are now looking to apply stem cell therapy to neurological diseases such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, or Alzheimer’s disease.