If you or a loved one's mobility and independence have been affected by a Stroke, you are likely looking for ways to continue on the rehab journey.
When a person suffers a stroke there is a lot of information to take in. Many times, some of the very helpful things get lost in your memory.
Stroke impacts people in different ways. Symptoms vary. No matter what symptoms you or your loved one experiences, you want to find ways to maximise improvement and minimise the impact these symptoms can have on your life.
A stroke is an injury to the Brain
While you may feel that it is the arm or leg that is having the trouble, it is the brain that controls those parts that are injured. A stroke happens when a blood clot or bleeding in the brain causes blood to flow to an area of the brain to be cut off. Those brain cells die but the healthy brain tissue left can make new connections to replace the connections that were lost. This is called Neuroplasticity and is driven by appropriate, specific repetition of good movement patterns. Therapists who specialise in Stroke know how to place an emphasis on Neuroplasticity.
No two Strokes are the same
Do you know a stroke survivor who is affected differently? Each stroke survivor will have different symptoms. There are a number of reasons for this. The size of the stroke. Was it a small or large stroke? How much of the brain was affected? The location of the stroke. Our brains control everything we do from our movement, sensation, speech, thinking and reasoning, emotions, balance, breathing..... And so each person’s symptoms will correlate to the area of the brain affected. Also the type of stroke, blood clot or bleeding, and a person’s age can affect their presentation. It is important to bear this in mind so you don’t compare yourself or your recovery to other stroke survivors. Specialist physios will help identify your specific problems and work with you to achieve your goals.
National guidelines, such as the RCP stroke guidelines and the NICE stroke guidelines, recommend 45 minutes of therapy daily / 5 days per week, as long as stroke survivors are showing measurable benefits from treatment. This is based on a strong body of research which has demonstrated the benefits rehabilitation can bring.
Rehabilitation occurs through a process called neuroplasticity. This is the capacity of the brain to form and reorganise connections and pathways in response to injury and the stimuli it is receiving. The more you use those pathways the stronger they get. But equally the less you use them the weaker they will get. In short for stroke survivors, the right exercises done lots of time will improve the function of your hand/arm/leg/balance.
What can you do? Using the principle of neuroplasticity the best thing you can do is involve and use your limb as much as possible. If you have sensory changes try gentle massage with different textures such as a cotton ball or a towel. If you have weakness in your arm or leg try to involve it in movement as much as possible e.g. use 2 hands to lift a cup, and make sure you are standing up using both legs to push you up.
It's always a good time to focus on your rehabilitation
Whether you are in the first six months after your stroke, or 20 years post-stroke, it is always a good time to consider your rehabilitation.
In the early stages you may well have identified specific goals that you want to work towards. These may include a return to work or a hobby. In these early stages, there's an opportunity to bombard your brain with "good" stimuli that will help the brain reorganise pathways to achieve desired movement patterns. For those stroke survivors who are more than 6 months post-stroke, recently published research by Professor Nick Ward and his team at The National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, showed that with therapy, improvements can be made at least 20 YEARS after a stroke. Professor Nick Ward said of the research.
"This is potentially a game-changer and I'm really excited about it... All this talk about the window of opportunity shutting within which you could recover is nonsense"
- This is really exciting research and supports what many clinicians and I feel - you can always make improvements. If you would like to focus on your rehabilitation, come and talk to us.
Specialist physiotherapy input can optimise your movement
Specialist neurological physiotherapists are experts in treating symptoms experienced by post-stroke survivors such as weakness, spasticity, sensory changes, and balance. They are able to tailor treatment and exercises to help you achieve your individual goals. They can guide you to develop good movement patterns and prevent unhelpful or compensatory movement patterns from developing.
Exercise can help to reduce the risk of further strokes
Research shows that regular moderate exercise can reduce your risk of stroke by 27% (Stroke Association). Exercise is good for all of us. It can reduce our blood pressure and help us maintain a healthy weight. Stroke survivors should exercise too.
Not sure how to start? A specialised physio can help advise on exercise type and intensity. Have you considered exercising in water? Hydrotherapy utilises water's unique properties to enable patients to move more freely and comfortably than they can on land and therefore can be of particular benefit to people with neurological conditions. So start taking action to incorporate exercise into your life. At Thorpes Neuro Rehab, we have access to hydrotherapy.
Recovery after stroke is complex and there is more information to be shared.
If you would like the chance to speak to one of our specialist Neurological Physiotherapists, then please call 0118 391 5055. You might have many questions right now and want to know more about what services we offer and if we could possibly help you. This call is a great way of obtaining more information and starting a relationship with Thorpes Neuro Rehab.
Specialist Neurological Physiotherapist
About the author
For over 21 years, 1000’s of people have consulted Jenny and her award-winning team of Neurological Physiotherapists looking for answers about how to stay more mobile, and active and maintain independence, whilst living with Neurological conditions.
We make every effort to ensure that we accurately represent the condition advice and prognosis displayed throughout this Guide.
However, examples of conditions and their prognosis are based on typical representations of those conditions that we commonly see in our physiotherapy clinics. The information given is not intended as a representation of every individual’s potential problems. As with any condition, each person’s symptoms can vary widely and each person’s recovery can also vary depending upon background, genetics, previous medical history, application of exercises, posture, motivation to follow physio advice and various other physical factors.
It is impossible to give a 100% complete accurate diagnosis and prognosis without a thorough physical examination and likewise, the advice given for the management of a condition cannot be deemed fully accurate in the absence of this examination from one of the Chartered Physiotherapists at Thorpes Neuro Rehab.
We are able to offer you this service at a standard charge. Significant injury risk is possible if you do not follow due diligence and seek suitable professional advice about your condition. No guarantees of specific results are expressly made or implied in this report.
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