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A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is blocked or reduced, causing damage to the areas of the brain affected. Approximately 600,000 strokes occur each year and can result in long-term neurological damage as well as disability. However, stroke rehabilitation can help survivors recover their mobility and independence and return to a full, enriching life.
Stroke rehab is usually conducted by a team of physical therapists, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, physicians, and other healthcare professionals. Each member of the team focuses on a different aspect of recovery to improve various skills. Here are just four benefits of participating in rehabilitation after stroke:
1. Regain strength and mobility
Strokes typically leave survivors with balance problems and paralysis or weakness on one side of the body, which can greatly impact daily life. Physical therapists help people regain the strength and balance necessary to participate in daily living and recreational activities such as carrying groceries, yard work, and jobs involving manual labor. Occupational therapists frequently work on fine motor control as well as coordination of the arms and trunk to help people improve their ability to take a shower, get dressed, and return to driving.
2. Prevent falls and other secondary complications
Due to balance impairments, falling is common after a stroke. Falls can result in serious consequences such as fractured bones or brain injury. To reduce the risk of falls, physical and occupational therapists help people improve their balance and reaction time by simulating challenging conditions in a safe environment. Other complications after stroke include pneumonia due to aspiration of food or liquids. Speech language pathologists help stroke survivors strengthen their swallowing muscles to decrease the risk of aspiration and subsequent health complications.
3. Promote a healthy lifestyle
Stroke survivors are at high risk for having another stroke in the future. Achieving a healthier lifestyle is crucial to reduce the risk of another stroke. Physical and occupational therapists help stroke survivors set up an exercise plan to reduce blood pressure and, if necessary, lose weight. Other members of the rehab team can help people begin a healthier diet and reduce stress.
4. Return to a fulfilling lifestyle
Following a stroke, it is common that the thinking and memory skills are affected. Speech therapists are specially trained to assess and address cognitive skills to help people return to a fulfilling lifestyle by developing strategies and creating an individualized plan for each patient.
Do you know the four signs of a stroke? To familiarize yourself with the signs of stroke, click here.
With the assistance of a good rehabilitation team consisting of therapists and other healthcare personnel, people who have suffered a stroke can regain their independence, prevent complications, and achieve a healthy lifestyle. To schedule post-stroke rehab care with our team of expert clinicians, click here or call (804) 764-1000.