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Nearly 8 lakh Americans have a stroke every year, and out of every four patients, one has had a stroke previously. Stroke is primarily characterized as a condition where blood supply is cut off from the brain due to blood clots or broken blood vessels. 

Stroke is a severe condition that often leads to lingering side-effects like impairment in language, motor, and sensory functions. It is one of the leading causes of long-term disabilities. 

Fortunately, with proper stroke rehabilitation, all the long-term impacts of stroke can be avoided. Moreover, with a consistent treatment regimen, you can also lessen the healing time for affected muscles, weak muscles and treat impaired mobility.

In this detailed guide, we will understand the following aspects of stroke rehabilitation- 

What is stroke rehabilitation & what does it include?

Which abilities can be regained with stroke rehabilitation?

How much time does stroke rehabilitation take? 

How to select a physical therapist for stroke rehabilitation?

Is stroke rehabilitation consistently successful?

What Is Stroke Rehabilitation & What Does It Include?

Stroke rehabilitation is a comprehensive treatment plan which begins after initial stabilization of the patient’s condition and includes treatment modalities like physical therapy and speech therapy to prevent long-term problems.

Stroke rehab should begin as soon as possible once the patients’ position is stable. This increases the chances of retaining body & brain function in minimal time.  

The rehab program focuses on restoring blood flow to your brain and reducing any surrounding pressure. It also entails lowering any chronic risk factors after stroke. 

Initially, your physical therapist will prioritize normalizing muscle function and help the patient rediscover how to perform simple tasks like sitting up, walking to the bathroom, bathing, dressing up, etc. Later, they will move on to specific treatments to address certain disabilities that vary from person to person. 

Let us look at some skills that can be managed effectively in a stroke rehabilitation program designed by a professional physical therapist.

Which Abilities Can Be Regained With Stroke Rehabilitation?

Cognitive Abilities

One of the stroke’s most noticeable side effects is cognitive impairment, leading to memory issues and poor judgment and decision-making. It can also include behavioral changes such as mood swings, emotional fluctuations, etc. 

A physical therapist specializing in occupational and speech therapy or a certified psychologist can help you regain the aforementioned cognitive abilities. They can also help make your home safer and help family members adapt to the patients’ condition. 

Motor Skills

A stroke can weaken one side of your body and negatively impact joint mobility. Consequently, your coordination is affected, and even the simplest of activities can lead to pain and muscle spasms. 

Physiotherapy experts work on retaining muscle strength and helping you regain balance & coordination. They also allow you to control spasms with stretching exercises, walking aids and improving motor skills.

Sensory Abilities 

A stroke can impair a section of your body’s ability to perceive sensory stimuli, including heat, cold, and pressure. Therapists can assist you in adjusting your body to the new situation.

Bowel & Bladder Control Problems

Other conditions that are common with stroke patients include bladder & bowel problems. These include diarrhea, constipation, frequent urination, urine inconsistency, and loss of bladder control. 

Physical therapists can help with these conditions by implementing pelvic floor exercises, and a bladder specialist will help resolve these issues from the root. In some instances, the doctor may also prescribe a course of medication. 

Speech Skills 

It is uncommon, but stroke can also lead to speech impairments where the patient might have difficulty speaking clearly and coherently. Moreover, due to cognitive side effects of the stroke, the person may also find difficulty in finding the correct words or completing full statements. 

Some of the muscles that affect speech are damaged due to stroke, which is the leading cause of speech disabilities. A speech therapist will help you speak clearly, and if the damage is severe, they can teach alternative ways to communicate while working on retaining everyday speech.

Swallowing Issues

Along with speaking challenges, stroke can also lead to difficulty in swallowing. An individual affected by stroke may forget to swallow while eating or have nerve damage that makes swallowing difficult. 

 Choking, coughing up food and frequent hiccups are all common side effects that can accompany difficulty in swallowing. Speech therapists can assist you in relearning how to swallow and eat normally. Dietitians can also help you in locating nutritional foods that are more easily consumed.

Depression

Trauma and physical strain are prominent effects of a stroke, and sometimes these can also lead to acute depression. Therefore, mental health treatment is also a vital part of stroke rehabilitation. 

How Much Time Does Stroke Rehabilitation Take? 

The duration of a stroke-rehab program varies from patient to patient, depending on several factors, including severity, medical history, and post-stroke complications. 

While some stroke survivors make a speedy recovery, most people will require long-term therapy, which could span months or years following their stroke.

Your physical therapist or stroke rehabilitation specialist will alter the treatment plan as you regain skills and your needs change during your recovery. You can continue to improve over time if you practice often.

How To Select A Physical Therapist For Stroke Rehabilitation?

Just as the course of treatment for stroke recovery varies according to symptoms and other complications, the factor for selecting the physical therapist also varies. However, you should ask the following questions to all the prospective doctors or clinics before enrolling in a physical therapy program- 

  • Examine their credentials and licenses.
  • Inquire about their clinic’s location; the closer, the better.
  • Check to see whether they take insurance. If so, how much of the cost is covered?
  • Expertise in the field – consider the time they have been serving stroke patients and analyze their knowledge. 
  • Inquire if they offer individualized treatment plans. This demonstrates their thoughtfulness and sensitivity.
  • Inquire whether they accept insurance- if not, what are their charges. While going for a cost-effective clinic or professional is tempting, it is not always suitable. 
  • Determine the clinic’s technology and the types of treatment techniques it provides.
  • Evaluation of progress and continuous assistance
  • Timings and availability are important considerations.

Is Stroke Rehabilitation Consistently Successful?

When it comes to stroke recovery, there is no ‘one size fits all concept. The success of a treatment plan depends on various factors such as – 

  • The level of damage the stroke has caused.
  • How soon the rehabilitation was initiated.
  • The motivation of the patient and how hard they are willing to work for their recovery.
  • The age and medical history of the patient.
  • Whether or not they have other medical problems.

However, some studies conclude that 10 percent of stroke patients recover entirely without any rehabilitation, while the other 25% may recover with minor impairments that resolve with time. 

The rest, 40% of the patients, need special care to address the moderate to severe impairments that can affect their normal function. From this data, we can conclude that stroke rehabilitation is a successful treatment for post-stroke symptoms. 

Concluding Thoughts 

Stroke is a severe condition that affects a person’s physical, mental and neurological health. As a result, it can be frustrating and annoying to recover from a stroke. A proper regimen, dedication, and the willingness to recover soon will help you regain your independence and optimal health at the earliest. 

Contact your nearest Stroke Lake Como, NJ clinic for more information about stroke recovery and inquire about their rehab programs. 

Shabbir Ahmad

Shabbir Ahmad is a freelance enthusiastic blogger & SEO expert. He is the founder of Shifted Magazine & Shifted News. He contributes to many authority blogs including porch, hackernoon & techcrunch.

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