What to expect from a stroke rehabilitation programme
A stroke can cause muscle weakness or paralysis of one side of the body, decreased coordination and balance, joint stiffness and pain, and muscle spasms. These can reduce independence and mobility. Our aim as physiotherapists is to help those who’ve had a stroke reclaim these things.
Initially, we will focus on what is known as task-orientated rehabilitation: exercises and treatment that focus on enabling people to master essential everyday tasks. Depending on how severe the stroke was, these could range from swallowing to learning to hold and pick things up to being able to use the bathroom unaided.
Because a stroke damages brain cells, we are central to the rehabilitation work we do as physiotherapists to harness the brain’s neuroplasticity. This is the brain’s ability to rewire itself and re-learn how to do things. It is this rewiring process that requires a lot of repetition of movements until they become hard-wired.
Stroke rehabilitation programme techniques and approaches
Besides the repetition of movement sequences, our physiotherapists will use a number of techniques and approaches to improve coordination, strength and balance and ensure muscles and joints don’t become stiff. As basic tasks are achieved, the scope will widen to get the patient more mobile. This could include walking (aided or unaided), climbing stairs, or enabling them to move from a wheelchair into a bed or car. Over time the physiotherapist will build the patient’s stamina to walk for longer periods.
Our stroke rehabilitation centre in Eltham has all the specialist equipment needed to practice walking in a safe environment, including a hoist, parallel bars and a treadmill.
How much time does rehabilitation require each day?
We may need to see a patient as often as twice a day to start with, but this could be reduced to once a day as they progress and gradually reduced over time. Besides working with the patients, we will provide them with exercises and tasks to practice on their own or with the help of their carer.
How long does stroke rehabilitation take?
This is the hardest question to answer as it depends on the individual, the severity of their stroke, their age and physical condition before having the stroke, and their goals. A minimum of 3 months is needed to make progress; for many, it will be at least six months to a year before they make significant progress.
Following the initial rehabilitation, a functional movement maintenance programme will be crucial for most people to maintain strength, balance and mobility.
What methods and modalities do Clearcut physiotherapists use?
As neuro physiotherapists, we draw on the Bobath Concept, which is a problem-solving approach to assessing and treating stroke patients, as well as the Conductive Education system; the Carr and Shepherd concept of motor relearning and constraint-induced movement therapy are among the models we use to help patients relearn movement patterns and regain their independence.
We may also rely on the Brunnstrom approach for the treatment of spastic muscles as well as neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), which uses electricity to stimulate unresponsive muscles.
Have any more questions about stroke rehabilitation and our experience in this area?
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