This month, from the 6th – 12th March, the Irish Heart Foundation is running the National Stroke Awareness Campaign. It’s purpose is to promote the awareness of stroke detection as the sooner the stroke is detected, the greater the chance of survival and reduces the risk of the stroke severity. If the signs of a stroke are detected early enough, the correct treatment can be administered quicker, which can greatly help to reduce any deficits that may happen. To promote early detection of a stroke, think of the acronym FAST:
Face droop, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to ring 999.
A stroke is caused from a lack of blood supply to the brain, as a result the part of the brain where the blood supply was reduced ends up not functioning properly. From a physiotherapy point of view, this is very relevant for us. Depending on the area of the brain with diminished blood supply, this can affect a certain aspect of the persons mobility. The primary role of the physiotherapist is to help the patient regain their joint range of movement, muscle strength and flexibility, improve balance and their overall mobility levels. We help the patient by teaching them how to re-learn the most basic of functional tasks – like transfers, bed mobility and walking.
Stroke rehabilitation can begin straight away, within a few days of the event. The initial rehab period consists of intensive physiotherapy sessions, focussing initially on bed mobility, transfer, walking and joint range and strength. The first few months after the event are vital in that during this period, this is where the most recovery takes place. Patients are encouraged to use their affected limb as able in order to speed up their recovery, even though the task at hand may be slower. As the patient improves, the onus shifts from the physiotherapist to the carer/family member and the patient themselves. After 4-6 months, the further recovery tends to be slower. This is not to say that they won’t recover, it will just be slower after the initial months. Many sufferers of stroke, regain all of their normal abilities; like talking, walking and running.
A lot of research is being conducted in the area of robot therapy to help with stroke recovery. Virtual reality is another option stroke recoverers are encouraged to try. It is great for motivation! Mirror therapy is also another treatment modality – where the affected and unaffected limbs are placed in a box with a mirror between the two compartments. When this is viewed from an angle, the brain is tricked into seeing two complete limbs. This helps the patient to regain use of the affected limb. It is also important to look at the persons physical fitness levels, as this can be reduced by a stroke event. Getting the patient mobilising as soon as possible will help to facilitate this.
Here at BodyBalance Physiotherapy, we understand it can be difficult to make it into our clinic for treatment on this issue. However, we do home visits so if you know of anyone who has suffered a stroke, we can call to the persons home and provide physiotherapy which can help to speed up their recovery. If you would like to avail of our service, or have any questions at all about our service or about strokes, please contact us directly on 086 3862001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yours in Health
Sean @ BodyBalance Physiotherapy