Most people have heard of strokes, even if they haven’t had one themselves. But even if you have never had a stroke before, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of one.
This is because when it comes to recovering from a stroke, one of the biggest factors is how quickly you receive treatment for it. So the faster you can identify the symptoms of a stroke, both in yourself and others, the better your recovery is likely to be.
Regardless, though, if you’ve had a stroke, a physical therapist ought to be part of your recovery team.
Physical therapy for stroke patients revolves around helping you get back to the activities you used to do, in your professional and personal life.
Let’s take a closer look at physical therapy for stroke patients.
What Is A Stroke?
A stroke happens when the brain’s blood supply is cut off. This interruption causes the brain cells of the affected area to stop working as they should, which results in weakness in the limbs, slurred or incoherent speech, and other symptoms.
Sometimes these symptoms are fleeting and last less than 24 hours. In these cases, the experience is known as a “transient ischemic attack,” or TIA for short. But when the experience lasts for longer than 24 hours, that is called a stroke, or a “cerebrovascular accident” (CVA).
Strokes are most commonly caused by blockages in the arteries, which in turn usually come from artery diseases or conditions.
Healthy arteries are smooth with a degree of elasticity, which means that blood can flow through them effectively.
Some common disorders of the arteries are atherosclerosis, which is when plaque builds up inside an artery, or an aneurysm, which is a weak spot in an artery which may burst and cause bleeding.
Heart disorders like arrhythmia, or atrial fibrillation or disease of heart valves may send blood clots into the bloodstream.
These blood clots can get lodged in the arteries of the brain and cause a blockage of the blood supply to brain cells.
Each of these conditions can lead to a stroke.
Physical therapy for neurological conditions like a stroke revolves around helping you manage your daily tasks in a meaningful way.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Stroke?
As with many conditions, stroke symptoms can present in a variety of ways.
However, there are a few common signs, which you can remember using the acronym “FAST.”
This acronym acts as a checklist of questions to ask yourself or another person who you think might be having a stroke.
Is your face drooping or numb?
Can you smile?
Is the smile uneven?
Is one arm weak or numb?
Can you raise both arms?
Is your speech slurred?
Are you able to speak?
Are you hard to understand?
Try saying a simple sentence, such as “The sky is blue.”
If you or someone shows any of these symptoms, it’s time to call 911.
This is true even if the symptoms stop shortly.
Make a note of the time when the symptoms appeared because doctors will find this information useful when they examine you and determine your treatment options.
Other Signs Of Stroke
Other signs or symptoms of a stroke include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness in your the leg
- Sudden confusion
- Sudden vision changes in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking
- Loss of balance
- Sudden severe headache
It’s important to seek medical treatment as soon as you notice a stroke occurring.
According to research from the CDC, those who received emergency medical treatment within 3 hours of their stroke tend to have fewer health concerns or disabilities 3 months after their stroke.
What Are The Physical Effects Of A Stroke?
The physical effects of a stroke are different depending on the area of brain that was affected by the stroke.
If the stroke occurs toward the back of your brain, you might find that your vision is affected.
If the left side of your brain was affected by the stroke, you’ll find that the right side of your body will be affected. You might experience paralysis on the right side of your body, speech/language problems, and develop a slow, cautious behavioral style that you didn’t have before.
If the right side of your brain was affected by a stroke, you might experience the following physical changes: paralysis on the left side of your body, vision problems, and a quick, inquisitive behavioral style.
Memory loss is a common effect after a stroke in any part of the brain.
Having said that, you don’t need to despair after having had a stroke.
Research shows that the more you learn about a stroke, the better you can understand it and therefore the better you can cope with it.
There is life after a stroke, and you can still lead a fulfilling and happy life after one.
How To Prevent Stroke
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent strokes, even if you have had one previously.
According to the CDC, up to 80% of strokes are preventable.
Managing your blood pressure, controlling your cholesterol levels, managing blood glucose, staying active and eating well are all ways you can reduce your risk of a stroke. Your doctor and treatment team are there for you and can help you stay on track with your prevention plan.
Healthcare professionals can offer treatment options that are designed especially for you, and will take into account carotid artery disease, atrial fibrillation and other heart conditions if you have them.
Also if you are a smoker, reducing your tobacco usage will also help reduce your risk of a stroke.
It’s true that most stroke victims are over 65, which makes many think of stroke treatment as a physical therapy for seniors related thing. However, anybody can experience a stroke at any age.
As well, women tend to have strokes more often than men, making it a women’s health issue.
How Can Physical Therapy Help With Stroke Recovery?
Now that we’ve covered the most important elements of stroke recovery – namely, to get emergency treatment as soon as possible, and to avoid having a stroke in the first place – let’s talk about physical therapy for stroke patients.
Since the effects of a stroke can be physical, physical therapy helps you to re-learn essential movements like walking, sitting, standing, lying down, and the process of switching from one type of movement to another.
Actions like this may not come naturally to you after a stroke, so physical therapy plays an important role in improving your coordination and motor skills.
Physical therapy for strokes can help you regain a sense of independence after a stroke and increase your quality of life.
Physical therapy involves meeting a physical therapist who will help to design a treatment plan for you that works for your particular stroke recovery goals and needs.
The physical therapist can give you exercises to practice together and at home, which will help you get used to movements that might have been affected by a stroke.
What Does A Physical Therapy For Stroke Patients Appointment Look Like?
It’s a good idea to start seeing a physical therapist as soon as possible after a stroke. In many cases, people actually begin seeing a physical therapist for stroke patients before they even leave the hospital.
At first, your physical therapist will take a detailed history of your health, noting any injuries or conditions you had before your stroke. As well, they will discuss your symptoms in detail, observing your ability to stand, move, walk, and perform other movements. Your physical therapist will also perform a hands on physical assessment, noting any issues.
In some cases, it’s a good idea to have a loved one nearby if your stroke has impacted your ability to communicate or understand.
From there, your physical therapist will put together a treatment plan that specifically addresses your needs. Because every stroke is different, your treatment plan may be different than others’. However, each physical therapy for stroke patients treatment plan has the same goals:
- To improve your movement & mobility
- To manage any chronic pain you may have
- To help prevent further post stroke issues
Because one of the common issues with stroke recovery is limited mobility, you may wish to seek out mobile physical therapy services to come to you. This can be easier than having to travel.
Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy
Capitol Physical Therapy has trained physical therapists available to help you with your stroke recovery needs.
We offer free consultations without the wait because we know how frustrating it can be to have to wait for an appointment when you have urgent health concerns to address.
Contact us today and we will set you up with one of our qualified physical therapists.