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  • Beth Miller, DPT

Physical Therapy Can Help Post Stroke Patients


Individuals can benefit from skilled physical therapy intervention to help reduce the numerous complications faced after having a stroke, whether big or small. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), approximately 700,000 people experience a stroke and about two-thirds of these individuals require rehabilitation. Depending on the parts of the brain that are damaged, an individual may have limitations with his or her ability to move and carry out normal activities of daily living resulting in restricted function.

Rehabilitation usually starts in an acute setting, either in a hospital or rehab facility, 24-48 hours after a person experiences a stroke and is stabilized. If a person is seriously weakened and has any deficits related to moving, the focus of therapy is to get them up and out of bed, moving around as much as their body will allow to promote plasticity in the brain. Functions compromised when a specific region of the brain is damaged by stroke can sometimes be taken over by other parts of the brain. This ability to adapt and change is known as neuroplasticity. (NINDS, 2013)

Therapy will not reverse the damage in the brain, however it can promote the best long-term outcome. Research shows even though a damaged brain cannot be “fixed” it can relearn tasks with constant, repetitive practice. Most common problems vary depending on the individual:

Deficits may include:

  • Paralysis, Hemiparesis or Motor Control

  • Sensory Disturbances

  • Language deficits (aphasia)

  • Emotional and Memory problems

  • Emotional Disturbances

With therapy, there is potential for patients to regain their motor control depending on the level of brain damage. Therapy treatment can include strengthening, cardiovascular rehab, increasing flexibility, and stamina to return to normal activities of daily living. Physical therapists help survivors regain the use of stroke-impaired limbs, teach compensatory strategies to reduce the effect of remaining deficits, and establish ongoing exercise programs to help people retain their newly learned skills. Disabled people tend to avoid using impaired limbs, a behavior called learned non-use. However, the repetitive use of impaired limbs encourages brain plasticity and helps reduce disabilities. (NINDS, 2013)

With help from your physical therapists at Mizuta & Associates, your therapy is designed personally for your needs and requirements to adapt to your lifestyle and activities of daily living.

For more information regarding stroke rehabilitation please don’t hesitate to call one of the physical therapists at Mizuta & Associates or visit the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke website: http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/stroke/poststrokerehab.htm

#braindamage #motorcontrol #paralysishemiparesis #sensorydisturbances #strokevictim

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