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Brain Health: Recovering from a Stroke

By HERWriter
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Stroke related image Photo: Getty Images

A stroke is a catastrophic event but two out of three people will survive this event. Many of them will need post-stroke rehabilitation to regain as much of their lives as possible.

According to the National Institutes of Health's Post-Stroke Rehabilitation Fact Sheet, rehabilitative therapy usually begins within the first two days of the stroke. Therapy is custom-tailored to the individual, because the aftermath of a stroke is a highly individualized profile of damage, depending on severity and area of the brain affected.

However, some generalizations can be made. Disabilities tend to fall into one of five categories. Stroke survivors may have difficulty controlling their movements, or be paralyzed. They may experience sensory disturbances which can include pain. They may have trouble speaking or understanding language. They may be unable to think clearly or remember things. They may experience emotional upheaval.

The medical professionals who are involved in post-stroke rehabilitation include physicians, rehabilitation nurses and mental health professionals. Occupational, physical, recreational, speech and vocational therapists complete the phalanx.

When discharged from the hospital, the stroke survivor may return home where she can carry on with a program made specifically for her. Or if circumstances dictate, she may go to a medical facility like an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation unit, a nursing facility.

The Mayo Clinic recommends therapy for communication disorders and exercises to strengthen motor skills. Relearning to walk can involve using braces, canes or walkers. Constraint-induced therapy, otherwise known as "forced-use" therapy requires the stroke survivor to use the affected arm or leg while restricting the use of the limb unaffected by the stroke. Electrical stimulation stimulates weak muscles, making them contract.

The brain has an amazing ability to compensate for damage caused by a stroke. This brain plasticity, or ability to change, requires long-term exercise. Medicinenet.com reported in its April 7, 2011 article that virtual tools may be the wave of the future in post-stroke recovery. The journal Stroke published this study.

Hi-tech motion-tracking video game systems, robotic gloves and 3-D goggles are used to strengthen and regain function in the upper arm. A stroke survivor may find herself playing a virtual piano keyboard with a robotic glove.

Stroke survivors who use virtual therapies may experience five times the improvement of those who had conventional physical therapy.

According to this research, after four to six weeks of using virtual therapies, motor improvement improved by 15 percent, and arm motor skills improved by 20 percent.


Post-Stroke Rehabilitation Fact Sheet

Stroke rehabilitation: What to expect as you recover

Virtual Reality Tools May Aid Stroke Recovery

Reviewed May 19, 2011
Edited by Alison Stanton

Visit Jody's website and blog at http://www.ncubator.ca and http://ncubator.ca/blogger

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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