When to begin Stroke rehab

Helping those who’ve had a stroke regain their mobility, confidence and independence is one of the most rewarding parts of working as a physiotherapist. Here our lead physio, Hassan Mohamoud, discusses one of the most common questions stroke patients and their families ask us about physiotherapy following a stroke and explains why acting on the answer is so important.

Sooner rather than later for stroke rehab?

The answer to ‘When should you begin stroke rehabilitation?’ is as soon as possible. Seek treatment early! When I worked in a hyper acute NHS stroke unit, we would often begin work with patients within 4 hours of them having had a stroke.
Although stroke patients will see a physiotherapist in hospital, we regularly see the people who’ve waited months before starting stroke rehabilitation physiotherapy in both the NHS and in private healthcare. Waiting lists are long and demand is high.
Unfortunately waiting to get started on rehabilitation can have significant implications for recovery time and the quality of recovery.
If a patient can start with a physiotherapist within 48 hours of being discharged from hospital that is ideal. You can self-refer to a private physiotherapist.

The implications of waiting to start rehabilitation

At Clearcut Physiotherapy, we’re seeing stroke rehabilitation patients who have been waiting months to see an NHS physiotherapist after being discharged from hospital and have only received a 6-week course of treatment when they needed more.

The longer a person waits to start rehabilitation, the more physical deterioration there will be to the muscles, joints and nerves that have been affected by the stroke due to a lack of movement and use. Because a stroke usually affects one side of the body, the longer this delay, the greater the imbalance between the two sides of the body will become.

Any movement patterns people may develop to compensate for the imbalance between the two sides – limping, relying on one arm, or listing to one side, for example – can cause injuries to other parts of the body, which need to be addressed too.

When rehabilitation starts, there is more work to do in regaining muscle strength, balance and confidence in abilities. Being housebound while a person waits to start rehab can also impact mental health and erode confidence. And if they are bed-bound, issues such as bed sores and urinary tract infections can affect their quality of life.
So, don’t delay. Start intensive physiotherapy as soon as possible.

Starting stroke rehab at home

If a patient is housebound following a stroke, our physios can start rehabilitation at home. Once they are able to, they can come to our stroke rehabilitation centre in Eltham, southeast London, where we have all the equipment needed to progress from a wheelchair to walking again.

Have any more questions about stroke rehabilitation and our experience in this area?

Call or email me now.

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