Post Stroke Rehabilitation–An Important Review

 More than 700,000 people suffer a stroke each year in the United States.  Approximately two-thirds of these individuals survive but require rehabilitation.  Rehabilitation goals are to get survivors to become as independent as possible and to achieve the best possible quality of life. Rehabilitation cannot reverse what was done but it can achieve the best possible outcome.

Stroke patients usually lose movement ability in their limbs due to brain damage. Physical rehabilitation is the method used to try to relearn those lost skills. An example would be  coordinating leg movements in order to walk or any other complex activity. Rehabilitation can also teach survivors new ways of performing tasks in order to circumvent or compensate for any residual disabilities. Another example would be that individuals may need to relearn  to bathe and dress by using only one hand, or  to communicate efficiently when their  language usage has been compromised.  Experts agree that the most effective part of rehabilitation is that it is carefully directed, focused and contains repetitive practice similar to what everyone needs to do in order to learn a new skill.

Physical rehabilitation for stroke   begins in the acute-care hospital after stabilization has occurred which is usually after   24 to 48 hours following the event. Patients are urged to begin independent movement because they suffer from some paralysis or are weakened. They are urged to change bed positions frequently while lying down and also to engage in range of motion activities that are both passive and active. This is done in order to strengthen their impaired limbs. “Passive”  exercises are those  where the therapist  helps the patient move a limb repeatedly and “active” exercises are those performed by the patient himself–not through robotic devices. A successful progression would be for the patient to sit up, move from bed to chair, stand and then walk with or without assistance. Further progress would be made if the patient can bathe, dress and use a toilet on their own.  Reacquiring the ability to carry out these  activities of daily living would be the first stage in a stroke survivor’s return to independence.

Some stroke survivors  will have to work with specialists for months or years to maintain and sharpen these skills.

Using the most effective physical therapy products can hasten the progress to independence. An example of this is the HANDTUTOR and LEGTUTOR. Created to assist the stroke patient with intensive exercise practice the TUTOR system (which includes the ARMTUTOR and 3DTUTOR) consists of devices that encourage self motivating and repetitive exercises for range of motion and other limb movements. The dedicated software includes challenging games that allow the patient to achieve success. The physical and occupational therapist record and monitor the progress made and customize a program for that specific patient.

Currently in use by leading U.S. and European hospitals and clinics the TUTORs are fully certified by the FDA and CE. In addition they can be used at the patient’s home through telerehabilitation. See WWW.MEDITOUCH.CO.IL for more information.

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