What should rehabilitation look like after a stroke? Rehabilitation after a stroke is a very important part of the treatment of people after an ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke. It is a long-term process that is handled by a team of specialists. Stroke can result in permanent disability and lack of independence, which is why it is so important to start rehabilitation early. Treatment is a chance to return to former fitness.
Why is stroke rehabilitation so important?
People who have suffered a stroke struggle with limited mobility that does not allow them to function normally. In the case of patients with more severe neurological deficits, they are unable to live independently without the help of third parties. They require care and help even in simple activities. Elderly people in particular often need the support of residential care facilities. Rehabilitation after a stroke is an important element of therapeutic management. With its help, patients are able to improve their health and regain the longed-for independence. Properly conducted treatment eliminates the probability of death due to thromboembolic complications or infection in the short time after the stroke. It also allows the patient to find himself in a new situation and restore as much of the lost efficiency as possible.
What does rehabilitation after a stroke look like?
Hemorrhagic stroke is also referred to as cerebral hemorrhage or cerebral haemorrhage. It consists in extravasation of blood in the area of the brain through the rupture of the vessel. It is usually caused by the rupture of microaneurysms in people with hypertension. When it comes to ischemic stroke, its cause is a sudden reduction in blood supply, and with it oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Rehabilitation in both cases must be implemented as soon as possible after stabilization of the patient’s general condition. Rehabilitation is an essential element of treatment for people who have had a stroke. First, it should be conducted in the neurology ward, and then in the rehabilitation wards. It is also important that it is continued at home or in a care and treatment facility. The treatment is carried out by a team of specialists, i.e.:
- medical rehabilitation specialist,
- occupational therapist,
- speech therapist,
- social worker.
The task of a physiotherapist is to treat with movement, i.e. kinesitherapy and physical treatments. This specialist also often performs therapeutic massages. A speech therapist deals with the treatment of speech disorders and dysphagia. Neuropsychologist deals with cognitive rehabilitation of language functions. Rehabilitation with this specialist focuses on executive functions, perception, memory, thinking, spatial skills, numeracy, writing and reading. An occupational therapist teaches independence in performing ordinary, everyday activities. The nurse, on the other hand, provides care and stimulates the skills acquired during therapy. It is the responsibility of the social worker to complete the discharge plan and care for the patient’s social and living conditions.
When should stroke rehabilitation begin?
Stroke rehabilitation should begin as early as possible. This is possible when the patient’s condition stabilizes. Physiotherapy after a stroke can be divided into 3 periods. The first is the period of functional prophylaxis. During the acute period, the patient remains in the hospital in the neurological department. The first stage lasts from 1 to 14 days after the stroke, and sometimes even 21. The next stage is the period of functional rehabilitation. It lasts from 2 to 3 weeks, but sometimes it lasts up to 24 months. It consists in a gradual return of functions and improvement of the patient’s health. The patient usually goes to the neurological rehabilitation department within a month and stays there for the next 12 to 16 weeks. The last period of rehabilitation after a stroke is the stage of adaptation. This period lasts from 12 to 24 months, but it happens that lasts up to 5 years. This is the so-called chronic period, in which the patient uses environmental rehabilitation.
Rehabilitation at home or in a center?
Much depends on the case. People with serious neurological deficits and a high degree of disability are referred for rehabilitation in an inpatient ward. In such a ward, people with minor defects who are not able to commute to a rehabilitation clinic or a day ward are also rehabilitated. People with moderate to mild disabilities can be treated at home with the support of a community stroke unit after they leave the hospital.
Rehabilitation after a stroke at home
Post-stroke rehabilitation must continue at home if the patient wants to recover. The method of treatment is agreed between the doctor and the physiotherapist. The aim of the therapy is to consolidate the efficiency and regain independence of a person after a stroke. Certain tools will come in handy for rehabilitation at home. A good solution is the installation of handles and safety frames, mainly in the bathroom, toilet and bedroom. The sick person will also need a walker, stabilizers, bands, etc. The choice of exercise equipment should be made after talking to a physiotherapist.