The Stroke Survivor’s Guide to Physical Therapy

Physical Therapy After Stroke

A person who had just suffered from a stroke will not be in the best physical state. It often causes paralysis on one side of the body. As such, stroke patients most likely are unable to move that side of his or her body. That means that he or she will also lose function in one arm and in one leg. This leaves the stroke patient unable to move the same way he or she was able to do so before suffering from stroke.


However, such an ordeal need not be permanent for the stroke patient. There are effective ways of regaining voluntary movement in one side of the body after suffering from stroke or to get back as close as possible to the physical shape prior to the stroke. So, if you happen to know someone close to you or if you yourself are a stroke patient, you might be interested in a vital physical therapy treatment program.


What is the purpose of vital physical therapy for stroke patients?


As mentioned, a stroke patient loses normal functions in one side of his or her body and will be unable to move as well as he or she did before suffering from a stroke. Vital physical therapy comes in to make sure your muscles do not atrophy at a rapid pace before the patient regains voluntary movement. And when the patient can voluntary move his or her body, vital physical therapy comes in as a form of gait training or muscle re-education to help the patient’s body relearn all of the normal day-to-day activities it was used to prior to the stroke.


Vital physical therapy treatment programs also serve as a balance re-education that makes sure that the patient does not fall during gait training. While the body might not regain the normal functional limitations it had before the stroke, the important part about this treatment is that the patient will be able to perform normal tasks again. In a way, it helps the patient take back his or her life and live a normal life once again even though his or her functional limitations might have decreased because of stroke.


What are the benefits of vital physical therapy for stroke patients?

 1. Stimulates affected muscles and nerves during the recovery period

After the patient suffers from a stroke, the body will begin a slow yet steady recovery process that happens as early as a day after the stroke. This process tends to be long and will be a lot longer if left alone to the powers of nature. However, vital physical therapy treatment programs can drastically shorten the recovery process by stimulating the affected muscles and nerves to improve circulation.

  1. Slows down the rate of atrophy

Atrophy is the process of your body losing muscles in a certain part. It happens when you no longer use certain muscles for a very long time. And because you have not used such muscles for an extended period of time, your body will begin to think that there is no reason for you to keep such muscles and will tend to waste away those tissues at a steady rate.

For stroke patients, atrophy is a normal occurrence because of how they are left paralyzed in one part of the body and will be unable to make use of the muscles in that part. As such, the muscle tissues in the paralyzed part will begin to waste away at a steady and rapid rate after the stroke. And even when the person regains voluntary movement in those parts, atrophy can still occur so long as the patient fails to stimulate the muscles found therein.

Vital physical therapy treatment helps decrease the rate of atrophy by making sure that the muscles are tone and stimulated even before the patient regains voluntary movement. This makes the entire recovery process faster since the patient’s muscles did not atrophy as much as they should have.

  1. Re-educates the body in a steady manner

While your brain might know how to perform simple day-to-day tasks, the sad part is that your body will not be able to follow through after it had been paralyzed for an extended period of time after suffering from a stroke. In fact, most patients cannot even function on their own during the early stages of recovery after regaining voluntary movement in the paralyzed portion of the body. After all, even simple daily tasks involve tons of complex movements that the body will be unable to comprehend after suffering from a stroke.

Physical therapists come in to help patients in re-learn how to move certain parts of their body all over again. This process is a steady yet effective manner that involves re-learning simple movements in a step-by-step process until the patient is ready for the more complex movements that involve different sets of muscles working in conjunction with one another. Vital physical therapy treatment, in effect, helps patients regain their balance and improve their coordination during the recovery process.

  1. Improves the quality of life

Stroke patients should never become mere victims of circumstance. The quality of the lives they live should not be diminished just because of stroke. As such, vital physical therapy treatment allows stroke patients to take back their lives from stroke and to improve the quality of their lives as independent human beings.

By undergoing physical rehabilitation, patients will be able to perform normal tasks they were able to perform before suffering from a stroke. They will be able to move just as freely and will be able to eat, play, and enjoy their lives according to their own terms. After all, life should never be lived strapped on a wheelchair all day or lying in a bed waiting for others to care for you for the rest of your life.

When do you need vital physical therapy treatment?

The best answer to that question comes from your doctor or healthcare professional because he or she knows what is the best course of action you should take for your condition. Also, not all conditions are the same. Some stroke patients only need minor physical therapy treatment programs while others require more complex and rigorous programs. It really depends on the patient’s situation and what the doctor prescribes.