The Importance of Physical Therapy After A Stroke

Physical Therapy After A Stroke

What is a Stroke?

A stroke is an event that causes a disruption of either blood flow or oxygen supply to the brain. The symptoms of a stroke can range from mild to severe, and impact a person’s neurological, speech, and physical abilities.

Symptoms of Stroke

  • Paralysis on one side (face, body, or both) – also referred to as Hemiplegia
  • Muscular immobility – most commonly known as spasticity
  • Aphasia – an inability to find words for a thought or an idea you want to express
  • Apraxia – the inability to speak coherently or logically
  • Dysarthria – lacking control of face and mouth muscles causing garbled or incoherent speech
  • Memory loss or difficulty retaining new information – due to the disruption in the brain caused by the stroke, memory loss and the ability to plan or organize or learn new information can become challenging

Why is Post-Stroke Care so important?

  • Due to the common recurrence of strokes, post-stroke care is essential to help manage and reduce the risk factors that can increase the chances of another stroke. 
  • After care requires vigilant and experienced caregiving to monitor for signs of another stroke. 
  • Another key aspect of post-stroke care is rehabilitation. Although the type of rehab required varies based on the severity of the stroke and symptoms, it is an essential aspect of recovery. 
  • A very important scientific study from the European Society of Cardiology studies the loss of muscle and weight associated with disability after stroke. They found that the disability caused by Stroke is usually attributed to brain damage, with little attention paid to the effector organ, which is the skeletal muscle. Exercise training is the most promising way to delay or prevent progression of muscle wasting and is an important therapy option especially in older patients with moderately severe stroke.

Care Options

The 2 most common types of care options for patients who have suffered a stroke are skilled nursing, and in-home caregiving. The type of care you receive depends on the severity and recency of the stroke.

Skilled Nursing

  • Patients who require extensive care immediately after a stroke may benefit from time spent at a skilled nursing facility. 
  • Skilled nursing staff provide medical care and rehabilitation services. 
  • Medical staff monitor the patient’s vitals, oversee and administer medication, and manage wound care for pressure injuries that can occur with extended bed rest or immobility. 
  • They also assist with daily tasks such as toileting, feeding, physical, and emotional support.

In-home Caregiving

  • Patients who experience milder stroke symptoms and no longer require urgent medical care are able to recover and rehabilitate under the care of an in-home caregiver. Oftentimes, patients are discharged from skilled nursing facilities to continue recovering at home under the supervision of an in-home caregiver.
  • These caregivers provide 24/7 care in the comfort and familiar environment of the patient’s home. 
  • Caregivers oversee medication routines, implement necessary dietary and lifestyle changes to reduce the chances of a repeat stroke, and can also manage wound care for pressure injuries.
  • They also assist with daily tasks such as bathing, dressing, and eating, as well as tasks around the home like light housekeeping, cooking, and prescription pick ups.
  • Another important benefit of in-home care is the availability of focused and personalized  companionship and emotional support to the patient.
  • Anxiety and depression are normal and common feelings to navigate after a stroke. An experienced in-home caregiver is equipped to deal with these feelings and can help manage them before they become overwhelming.

Rehabilitation after Stroke

  • Symptoms of stroke can range from physical, cognitive, and emotional impacts that can affect your daily life in a number of ways.
  • In the instances where the stroke causes neurological or physical changes, there is a rehabilitative protocol that is created by physicians and physiotherapists to follow and implement. 
  • Timeliness plays a big factor in stroke treatment and after care and multiple changes have to be enacted at once. These range from physical therapy, to occupational and/ or speech therapy depending on the patient’s symptoms. 

Physical Therapy (PT) after Stroke

  • Physical Therapy is essential because it helps stroke patients regain their strength, balance, mobility, and movement. 
  • Physical therapists create personalized treatment plans for patients based on the severity of the stroke and  the specific areas of the body most impacted by the stroke.
  • These treatment plans also factor in the patient’s overall health, abilities and functionality. 
  • Treatment plans focus on balance training, range of motion exercises, strength building exercises, gait training, and daily task exercises to help with skills like walking, self-dressing, and toileting if possible. 
  • Most physical therapy sessions consist of tailored exercises and stretches to help restore a patient’s muscle tone and range of motion. 

Speech Therapy (ST) after Stroke

  • Speech therapy is a key aspect of post-stroke care because it helps patients regain the ability to communicate. 
  • This is often the most isolating and challenging hurdle for stroke patients to navigate. The inability to communicate effectively leads to a loss of identity or self and independence for many victims of a stroke. 
  • Speech therapists create personalized treatment plans for patients and work on articulation exercises, language exercises, swallowing therapy, alternative communication forms for non-verbal patients, and cognitive-communication therapy to help those patients suffering from cognitive issues related to processing and memory. 

Occupational Therapy (OT) after Stroke

  • Occupational therapy is focused on helping stroke patients regain the ability to perform daily tasks.
  • Therefore, OT’s work on developing strategies so that patients may bathe and dress themselves, cook, clean, and enjoy hobbies like gardening, crafting or even playing games with friends and loved ones. 
  • Additionally, occupational therapists help modify patient’s homes for changing safety and accessibility needs. This can include simple tasks like rearranging furniture, to installing ramps for wheelchairs and grab bars in the bathroom. 

Care Mountain

Personalized Care

  • A stroke can last for seconds, but the impacts can affect people for a lifetime. 
  • Post-stroke care requires the following:
    • Timely care plan implementation
    • Experienced caregiver
    • Personalized rehabilitation plans with physical, speech, and occupational therapy
  • Our goal is to help every stroke patient live a long and healthy life with dignity and agency.

Quality Assurance

  • Our caregivers and physical, speech, and occupational therapists undergo a thorough process  to ensure that they can provide the expert and personalized care necessary for a successful live-in care plan.
  • We conduct national background checks, extensive reference checks, and in-person interviews for every team member.

Scope and Experience

  • We have 17+ years of experience providing post-stroke in-home care to families across Dallas and Ft. Worth 
  • Our clients range from Arlington, Southlake, Preston Hollow, Highland Park, Plano, McKinney, Allen to Friso 
  • Care Mountain is well-versed in understanding the nuances and specifics of every family needing caregivers to support their loved ones. 

Contact us today to help with your caregiving needs