How Physical Therapy Can Help You Reclaim Your Life After a Stroke

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Have you, or someone you know, recently suffered from a stroke? It is no secret that any neurological disorder can be limiting and debilitating, forcing you to find new ways to manage your daily life. While this can be frustrating, physical therapy can help improve your function so you can get back to living your life on your own terms! For more information on how we can help you reclaim your life after a stroke, contact Comber Physical Therapy & Fusion Chiropractic today.

What happens during a stroke?

A stroke is referred to as a Cerebrovascular Accident and is caused by the sudden death of brain cells due to lack of oxygen. This occurs when the blood flow to a particular portion of the brain is restricted from a clot or bleed. There are two different types of strokes. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel is blocked, typically due to “arteriosclerosis,” which is a buildup of fatty deposits. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel leaks or ruptures, due to a weakened area of the brain from abnormally-formed blood vessels. 

The severity of symptoms and recovery period are dependent on where the stroke occurred in the brain, how extensive the damage was, and the duration of the stroke. A stroke can affect cognitive function, speech, the ability to swallow, walking, balance, strength, and function. Some common symptoms associated with strokes include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Facial droops
  • Weakness or loss of function on one side of the body
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Instability
  • Overactive reflexes
  • Reduced sensation to touch, or “pins and needles”
  • Mental confusion, such as memory loss or difficulty remembering words
  • Vertigo

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek immediate medical attention.

How does physical therapy help with post-stroke rehabilitation?

Brain plasticity, or neuroplasticity, is the keystone to stroke recovery. Neuroplasticity is the ability of your brain to re-wire after the disruption of a stroke. We believe neuroplasticity is driven by salience. This is a term used to describe your brain’s ability to prioritize what is important. If learning a task like walking up the stairs is important to you because you want to sleep in your upstairs bedroom, it will be important to your brain and it will re-wire better. Learning to tie your shoes when all you wear are loafers would not be important to you and it would be harder to re-wire your brain to focus on a task that is unimportant. Our physical therapist’s first task is always time spent with the patient to understand what is of importance to them in developing a stroke recovery plan of care. A patient may be asked about hobbies, vacations, hidden talents, and more so our physical therapist can best understand motivations and goals for recovery.

Physical therapy is a vital part of the recovery for a person who has suffered from a stroke. A thorough evaluation is done in various stages of the rehabilitation process to determine progression in strength, transfers, walking, balance, range of motion, and safety. Our licensed physical therapists approach the care of each person as an individual, adapting the best rehabilitative process to each case. 

Occupational therapists work very closely in the process to improve upper extremity and hand function. Occupational therapists can also assist with speech therapy, by working with muscle deficits of speech, swallowing, and facial expressions. For patients experiencing decreased cognitive function following their stroke, cognitive challenges can help increase the functioning of the brain to problem-solve many of life’s daily activities. 

The long-term goal of any stroke rehabilitation plan is to improve physical function so the patient can be as independent as possible. Sometimes, a patient may have to relearn basic skills, such as walking, dressing, writing, speaking, or eating. At Comber Physical Therapy and Fusion Chiropractic, our advanced methods and modalities are equipped to help patients relearn, recover, and reclaim their lives.

Our gold standard plan of care focuses on the neuroplasticity and salience of the brain. We use motor learning to establish functional patterns to minimalize the effects of hemiparesis, or weakness on one half of the body. This leads the way towards gaining more normalized gait and transfers. Ultimately, the therapeutic goal is to return the patient to their prior level of activity and leisure.

If you have recently suffered from a stroke, don’t hesitate to seek the proper rehabilitation. Get started on the path to reclaiming your life by scheduling a consultation with Comber Physical Therapy and Fusion Chiropractic today!

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