Physical Therapy for Stroke Victims

What is a stroke? There are actually two types of strokes, ischemic and hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke occurs when there is a blood clot that blocks the blood flow to different areas of the brain. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel leaks or ruptures on the brain. When the brain has restricted blood flow or there is bleeding on the brain, physical and mental deficits can occur. The specific deficits depend on which side of the brain was damaged or affected. Each side and area of the brain control different functions. The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and vice versa. Possible deficits could range from speech impairment to muscle weakness or paralysis on either side of the body. Strokes can happen to someone at any age, not just the elderly population. Over 700,000 people suffer from strokes each year.

After the doctors determine which side or area of the brain was affected, the deficits can be determined. After the deficits are found, Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy or Speech Therapy could be prescribed. The type of therapy depends on what areas of the brain were damaged. Physical Therapy could begin 24-48 hours after the patient has stabilized.

The prescribed Physical Therapy for a stroke victim could include learning to walk with the affected lower body limbs, learning to reach and strengthen upper body limbs, strengthening core or back muscles to sit on their own, or re-learning balance and full body stability. For example, if the stroke was localized to the left side of the body, the right arm or leg could be affected. If the right leg had a strength deficit, the therapy would need to focus on learning to walk with the affected limb, strengthening the muscles needed for everyday function, and any other deficits that need to be addressed. The type and duration of therapy will vary with each patient.

Stroke victims have a greater chance to regain normal daily functions when working with a knowledgeable Physical Therapist, Occupational Therapist or Speech Therapist. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment contact Carolina Orthopedics toll free at 844.836.6595.