How Can Physical Therapy Help You Recover From A Stroke?

How Can Physical Therapy Help You Recover From A Stroke? | Capitol Physical Therapy Washington DC | Spine Therapist

Your brain is an incredibly powerful organ responsible for a wide range of bodily processes and functions.

Notably, it controls all of the movements in your body, including:

  • Balance
  • Coordination
  • Speaking
  • Muscle function
  • Basic skills, such as gross and fine motor skills

Many of us take all the work our brains do for us for granted.

This fact is rarely more apparent than after you’ve experienced a stroke.

Whether major or minor, a stroke can be debilitating, and the recovery process can be long and arduous.

Strokes are the leading cause of long term disability in the United States.

However, damage caused by a stroke is not always permanent, and recovery can be expedited by physical therapy after a stroke.

If you or a loved one have recently suffered a stroke, physical therapy treatments for neurological conditions can make all the difference.

Let’s take a closer look.

What Is A Stroke?

Before we discuss how physical therapy can help with a stroke, it’s important to first understand what actually happens during a stroke.

A stroke is caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain, which causes bleeding, or by a blockage such as a blood clot, which prevents blood supply to the brain.

When the blood supply to your brain is cut off, you begin to experience oxygen deprivation, which can ultimately damage the brain tissue.

Brain cells and tissue become damaged and start to die within minutes of losing their oxygen supply.

This results in varying degrees of disability in the parts of the body controlled by the area of the brain affected by stroke.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Stroke?

When it comes to a stroke, early intervention is of the utmost importance.

According to 2004 research by Díez-Tejedo and Fuentes, early intervention is incredibly important to protect your brain during a stroke.

The faster the stroke is treated, the less significant the damage, so it is important to recognize the symptoms and to seek help quickly.

Therefore, your chances of recovery after a stroke may be greatly improved if you can recognize the symptoms.

Symptoms of stroke include:

  • Paralysis, particularly to one side of the body
  • Numbness or weakness to the arm, face, and leg
  • Slurred speech or trouble speaking
  • Severe headache or sudden dizziness
  • Confusion or trouble understanding speech
  • Blurred, blackened, or double vision in one or both eyes
  • Loss of balance and trouble walking

If you see the signs of a stroke, it’s important to seek immediate medical attention.

What Are The Risk Factors For Stroke?

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, certain risk factors may increase your likelihood of stroke.

RELATED: Understand Stroke Risk Factors – Are You At Risk?

These include:

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Using birth control pills
  • Having a history of transient ischemic attacks (TIA)
  • Having a high red blood cell count
  • Having high blood cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Excessive alcohol and drug use
  • Having an abnormal heart rhythm
  • Structural abnormalities in your heart

Are There Different Types Of Strokes?

Not all strokes are created equal.

In fact, there are multiple different types of strokes with varying degrees of symptoms.

The type of stroke you have may determine treatment options and recovery time.

There are four main categories of stroke: hemorrhagic stroke, ischemic stroke, embolic stroke, and transient ischemic attack, and within these main categories there are further distinctions.

Next, we’ll examine the different types of strokes in more depth.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel or artery in the brain bursts, flooding the brain with blood.

The blood creates pressure on the skull, causing the brain to swell.

This inflammation causes tissue and brain damage.

The two types of hemorrhagic stroke are intracerebral, when an artery bursts and floods blood into the brain tissue, or subarachnoid, which causes bleeding in the space between the brain and the tissue.

A subarachnoid hemorrhage is much less common and is often the result of head trauma.

RELATED: Physical Therapy Treatments For Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Ischemic Stroke

Ischemic strokes are the most common type of stroke.

An ischemic stroke occurs when the arteries bringing blood to the brain narrow or become blocked.

A blockage can occur due to a blood clot, plaque in the artery, or a severely reduced blood flow.

RELATED: Physical Therapy For Varicose Veins

The two types of ischemic stroke are thrombotic, when the clot occurs in the artery supplying blood directly to the brain, or embolic, when the clot occurs in another part of the body and travels through the bloodstream to the brain.

Embolic Stroke

An embolic stroke may be the result of a heart condition such as atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular heartbeat.

For this reason, embolic stroke is considered among the most common form of stroke.

Causes of embolic stroke include heart disease, heart defects, childbirth, autoimmune disease such as diabetes, and just plain old aging.

RELATED: Physical Therapy For Seniors Health Issues

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is also called a ministroke, as it involves a temporary blockage in blood flow to the brain that resolves itself.

A TIA is typically caused by a blood clot and can last anywhere from a few minutes up to a few hours.

Symptoms are similar to that of a full stroke, and should be treated seriously.

A TIA is considered a warning sign of a stroke, as sufferers who do not seek treatment are more at risk of a major stroke.

physical therapist for post stroke | Capitol Physical Therapy Washington DC | Spine Therapist

How Can Physical Therapy Help You Recover From A Stroke?

Physical rehabilitation after a stroke is crucial in the early stages of recovery, as the connection between brain and body has been interrupted.

You may have little to no control over your affected muscles, depending on the severity of your stroke.

Because strokes affect everybody differently, working with a physical therapist to find a personalized plan that targets your affected areas can speed up the healing process.

Beginning as early as 24 hours after your stroke, physical therapy can stimulate affected nerves and muscles to maintain circulation and prevent stiffness.

You’ll discover how to reestablish the connection between your brain and body, and also how to avoid further injury due to your weakened state.

RELATED: How To Prevent Injuries When Lifting Heavy Objects

After your discharge from the hospital, you may be assigned to either an inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation program.

Once you are back at home, your recovery process can be aided by a physical therapist, who will work with you to retrain weakened muscles and encourage your body to rebuild healthy brain tissue.

Because travelling can be difficult while recovering from a stroke, we offer online physical therapy treatments.

Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today

At Capitol Physical Therapy, we can help you to relearn some of the basic motor skills you may have lost due to stroke.

Our physical therapists are trained to work with stroke survivors to design a personalized treatment program based on your individual symptoms and lifestyle requirements.

If you or someone you love has been affected by stroke, book your appointment with Capitol Physical Therapy today and let us help with your healing process.

Book your appointment with Capitol Physical Therapy today and begin recovery tomorrow.

Capitol Physical Therapy
1331 H St NW #200,
Washington, DC 20005


9560 Pennsylvania Ave. # 202,
Upper Marlboro, MD 20772


Capitol Physical Therapy offers orthopedic and other pain related solutions, with our versitile team of physical therapists in Washington, DC