A stroke is responsible for being the second largest killer of the global population with an estimate of affecting up to 1.8 million people in India itself. It has gained acclaim as being the most common cause of chronic disability in adult individuals. The cause of a stroke is by a blockage or the bursting of a blood vessel. It creates an interruption in the circulation of blood throughout the body.
A stroke can destroy or damage the cells in the brain, which in turn affects the various functions of the body. The damage to the brain is typical in the region that controls the mobility in an individual; this causes paralysis on one side of the body.
Common causes of a stroke;
- Chronic smoking
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Lack of physical activity
People often fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke, which worsens the condition of the stroke patient as the doctors can salvage the situation if the person is taken to the hospital within 24 hours of the stroke’s occurrence. Symptoms of a stroke include;
- Weakness of face, limbs on one side of body
- Decreased cognitive function
- Speech difficulty
- Severe headache
- Nausea, vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
- Decreased coordination
Treatment of the side-effects of a stroke and the rehabilitation of stroke patients falls under neuro -Physiotherapy. A Neuro-Physiotherapist has extensive knowledge regarding the conditions of the brain, its diseases, and the way to prevent, manage, and rehabilitate from them. Physiotherapy could be the key to regain the abilities lost after a stroke. It can also help reduce the chances of another stroke.
The main focus for stroke patients undergoing Physiotherapy would be to be able to learn to use both sides of the body again and to regain as much of the previous mobility as possible. Physiotherapists often pair with doctors, speech therapists, and other health professionals while treating a stroke patient.
Experts recommend an average of forty-five minutes a day of physiotherapy for stroke recovery, with five days a week as a minimum. High-intensity physiotherapy is required to regain mobility and strength.
Role of physiotherapy in helping a stroke patient;
- Coming up with a recovery plan, with minimized chances of slowing down of recovery
- Advise on the positioning and moving of the patient by the caretaker
- Determines the point at which the patient can try and move around and the kind of equipment needed to aid them in this conquest
- Helps in the learning of normal movement of the limbs and the body in general
- Strengthening of the legs through strengthening exercises
- Cardio to build stamina
- Stretching to avoid stiffness of the body
There are specific goals in the mind of the Physiotherapist when dealing with a patient recovering from a stroke. The purpose of physiotherapy when helping a stroke patient can be classified as follows;
- Acute care: Consists of treatment to prevent any recurring stroke, help in mobilization, and screening for the cause of the stroke.
- Rehab care: The Physiotherapist will come up with a detailed plan for recovery, which includes rehab goals, management of mobility disabilities, and the treatment of any occurring complications.
- Community care: This involves making changes to the lifestyle of the stroke patient and the coordination of the care given by the caretaker.
Physiotherapy can have immense positive effects on the recovery and the management of stroke patients. Advantages of Physiotherapy include;
- Sensory simulation
- Improved mobility and motor skills
- Conductive education
- Limb physiotherapy through passive and assertive care devices
- Tone management
- Sensory relearning
- Balance training
When a stroke patient approaches a Physiotherapist, they will initially assess the condition of the stroke patient to determine the kind of care that shall be required. The Physiotherapist will later build a tailored list of needs based on their assessment of the level of disability seen in the stroke patient.
There are several areas to work and improve upon when aiding the rehabilitation of a stroke patient.
These areas include;
- Regaining strength
- Attaining sensation
- Balance and coordination of the limbs
- Walking without support
- Upper limb weakness
- Increasing endurance and preventing fatigue
- Restoring perception of the limbs
To work on the different areas for management and rehabilitation, several pieces of equipment are employed to aid. Some of the material used includes treadmills, exercise bike, gym ball, standing aids, walking aids, parallel bars, and, in some cases, even mirrors. The main aim of the Physiotherapist would be to help the stroke patient regain most of their normal mobility, which will help them be as independent as possible in carrying on with their healthy life.
Physiotherapy is the key to proper and complete rehabilitation for stroke patients. We cannot ignore Physiotherapy when recovering from a stroke as it can be of utmost help in regaining all lost abilities and making them as independent as possible. With its long list of advantages, Physiotherapy is essential in helping stroke patients.