Most stroke survivors develop some form of disability. Some of the more serious problems could include paralysis, rendering the patient with the inability to hold objects, inability to stand or walk and speech difficulties. Often, the paralysis occurs only on one side of the body, as one side is more affected by the blood clot in the brain. Many survivors however can make significant improvements through therapy and rehabilitation.
For higher chances of improvement and recovery, it is crucial that rehabilitation starts as soon as the patient's condition is stabilized, usually within 24 to 48 hours after the onset of the stroke. Initial steps involve enabling independent movement since most patients are paralyzed or seriously weak. Patients are encouraged to frequently change positions while lying in their beds and participate in passive and active range-of-motion exercises to help strengthen their muscles and limbs, particularly those that have been impaired by the stroke. Passive exercises are ones wherein a physical therapist assists you in performing movements repeatedly, while active exercises are done by the patient independently. A patient can then progress to sitting up, moving from bed to chair, standing, and even walking without help. Therapists and nurses assist their patients with complex tasks such as going to the toilet, dressing and bathing while encouraging them to use their impaired limbs while carrying out these demanding activities.
CIMT and Gait Training Exercises
Several stroke rehabilitation centers use CIMT. This form of therapy involves constraining the unimpaired limb to force the patient to use the stroke-impaired limb.
Gait training exercises are also commonly used. In gait training exercises, you start by practicing how to stand up using the parallel bars with the help of a physical therapist. You will learn how to correctly and comfortably shift your weight from one leg to another, front to back and side to side. You progress to walking short distances between the bars, holding on to them for support. With the assistance of the therapist, you will take steps outside of the bars using a walker or cane. You do this while wearing a gait belt around your waist as a means for the therapist to hold you and keep you balanced.
Home Exercise Devices
Even after you have left the hospital, a physical therapist will do a house visit in order to make the necessary recommendations on how to create a safe and conducive environment for rehabilitation. The therapist will often require you to have hand-hold bars, seats in tubs and showers and toilet adapters.
Aside from assistive devices, simple exercise equipment is also important. A treadmill could be used for working the limbs while elastic rubber tubes that can be attached to door knobs can be used to stretch and exercise the arms.
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