Stroke patients often need physical therapy to strengthen their muscles, retrain their sense of balance and coordination and relearn certain movements. They may need occupational therapy to ensure they can do the tasks associated with daily living, like getting dressed, feeding themselves, showering, or relearning skills necessary to return to work. Having a stroke breaks vital connections between your brain and your muscles and almost always results in some loss of mobility and movement. However, this loss isn’t necessarily permanent. Rehabilitation is especially crucial during the early stages of recovery when patients have little to no control over their affected muscles.
Stroke often causes paralysis on one side of the body, which means patients lose function in one arm and one leg. In the first weeks and months of recovery, physical therapists work with stroke survivors to keep these muscles toned and stimulated. If and when the function does return, physical therapy allows patients to relearn everyday skills and retrain their healthy brain cells to control the affected body parts.
Today, many physical therapists specialize in stroke and other types of neurological trauma. These therapists know how to help patients relearn complex bodily movements and avoid complications that could derail their progress later. After a stroke, improving your balance, coordination, and other basic skills is essential to your overall quality of life.
Some rehabilitation programs are more rigorous than others, so your ideal therapy setting will depend on your symptoms and lifestyle requirements. Motor and sensory impairments are very common after stroke, but your recovery odds increase if you receive the appropriate stimulation and support for your stroke-impaired limbs. Some stroke rehab programs are inpatient programs and others are outpatient programs. Inpatient programs admit patients to stay overnight and will assign them rooms to live in during treatment. Outpatient programs provide treatment without requiring that patients stay overnight. Outpatient programs allow a stroke survivor who lives at home a full range of services by visiting a hospital outpatient department, outpatient rehabilitation facility, or hospital day program.
Physical therapy and stroke recovery is key component in the long recovery journey back to the patient’s normal daily routine. Choosing the right program and setting the right goals are not decisions to be taken lightly. Be sure to communicate your needs and feelings so you end up with the facility and program that best fits you. You will need your support system and the art of that system is the facility that you choose to work on your recovery.