What to Expect From Stroke Rehabilitation.

Dr. Komaroff is a physician and professor at Harvard Medical School and gives the following advice

Rehabilitation helps return abilities impaired by a stroke. How much progress one makes and how quickly it occurs will depend on how severe the stroke was and the part of the brain that was affected.

Strokes can affect muscle strength, senses (like pain), one’s ability to speak and to understand speech, vision, emotions, thinking and level of consciousness. Some people only suffer mild unilateral weakness with nothing else wrong. Other people lie in a coma.

New techniques have been learned in recent years that sometimes lead to recovery that at one time were not possible.

Rehabilitation may occur in the hospital, a rehab facility or at home. One or more specialists may be involved. These may include a physiatrist, rehab nurse, physical or occupational therapist, speech-language pathologist or a recreational therapist.

The strategies used will depend on the patient’s goals for therapy. Some common goals include rebuilding strength, relearning to walk, improving speech and recovering memory. On the other hand rehab can also help a person adapt to a permanent disability, if necessary.

Physical rehab may include walking up or down stairs, walking on a treadmill and using hand or leg weights. Even if the patient can’t bear weight on his legs exercise may still be possible. This may have to be done while partially supported by a harness. Many patients exercise in a swimming pool, where water can support some of the weight.

The therapist may also stimulate natural movements in the arms and legs. This can help restore neurological pathways at the same time as it strengthens muscles and improves circulation.

Regaining skills for regular everyday living is another important goal. The patient will learn practical techniques to make washing, dressing, driving and other routine activities more manageable.

The therapist may teach speech and language skills and may include exercises to improve comprehension, speaking, reading and writing. It may also help restore the ability to swallow safely which is often impaired by a stroke.

Then there is cognitive rehab that teaches strategies to compensate for problems with learning, memory, and awareness.

Rehab usually takes time and hard work. patients sometimes get discouraged but rehab can make the crucial difference between regaining previous ability to function or remaining impaired.

Some patients make little progress after a month of work, every day, with rehabilitation therapy. Then, they suddenly seem to make considerable progress. They should not give up. Stroke rehab really can make a difference.

Finding and using the best physical therapy solutions often includes products like the TUTOR system. The HANDTUTOR, ARMTUTOR, LEGTUTOR and 3DTUTOR have been developed to assist in exercising stroke affected limbs.

The TUTORs have become a key system in neuromuscular rehabilitation and physical therapy for interactive rehabilitation exercise. These innovative devices implement an impairment based program with augmented feedback and encourage motor learning through intensive active exercises. These exercises are challenging and motivating and allow for repetitive training tailored to the patient’s performance. The training is customized by the occupational and physical therapist to ensure that the patient stays motivated to do intensive repetitive manual therapy and exercise practice. The TUTORs are now part of the rehabilitation program of leading U.S. and European hospitals with the TUTORs being used in clinics and in the patient’s home. Home care patients can be supported by the occupational and physical therapist offering tele-rehabilitation. The TUTORs are fully certified by the FDA and CE. See WWW.MEDITOUCH.CO.IL for more information.

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