What is stroke?
A stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), is a medical condition that occurs when there is a sudden disruption of blood flow to a part of the brain. This disruption can be caused by a blocked blood vessel (ischemic stroke) or a ruptured blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). As a result, the affected brain cells do not receive the oxygen and nutrients they need, leading to their damage or death.
Watch video on Stroke
What is stroke rehabilitation?
Stroke rehabilitation is a comprehensive and multidisciplinary process aimed at helping individuals who have experienced a stroke regain their physical, cognitive, and emotional functions to the best of their abilities. The goal of stroke rehabilitation is to improve the individual's quality of life (QoL), enhance their independence, and help them reintegrate into their daily activities and communities. Rehabilitation typically begins as soon as the individual's medical condition stabilizes and continues over an extended period, which may vary depending on the severity of the stroke and the specific needs of the patient.
Here are some key components of stroke rehabilitation:
Physical Therapy: Physical therapists work with stroke survivors to improve their mobility, strength, balance, and coordination. They design exercises and activities tailored to the individual's abilities and goals. These exercises can help patients relearn how to walk, climb stairs, and perform other activities of daily living.
Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapists focus on helping stroke survivors regain their ability to perform tasks necessary for daily life, such as dressing, bathing, cooking, and using the bathroom. They may provide adaptive techniques and tools to assist with these activities.
Speech and Language Therapy: For those who experience speech and communication difficulties after a stroke, speech-language pathologists help improve language skills, speaking abilities, and swallowing functions. This therapy also addresses cognitive aspects related to communication.
Cognitive Rehabilitation: Cognitive functions such as memory, attention, problem-solving, and reasoning may be affected by a stroke. Cognitive rehabilitation aims to improve these functions through exercises, strategies, and training.
Psychological and Emotional Support: Stroke survivors often experience emotional challenges such as depression, anxiety, and frustration. Psychologists or counselors may provide therapy to help individuals cope with these emotions and adapt to the changes brought about by the stroke.
Supportive Services: Social workers and case managers can assist stroke survivors and their families in accessing resources, planning for home modifications if needed, and arranging for ongoing care and support.
Assistive Devices and Adaptive Strategies: Depending on the individual's needs, therapists might recommend the use of assistive devices such as canes, walkers, or specialized tools to aid in daily tasks.
Family and Caregiver Education: Rehabilitation often involves educating family members and caregivers about the stroke survivor's needs, exercises, and strategies to provide better support at home.
Community Reintegration: As progress is made, therapists work with individuals to gradually reintegrate them into their communities, workplaces, and social activities.
Continued Follow-Up: Stroke rehabilitation is an ongoing process that may continue for months or even years after the initial stroke. Regular follow-up appointments and adjustments to the rehabilitation plan are important to monitor progress and make any necessary changes.
Every stroke survivor's rehabilitation plan is unique and tailored to their specific needs, abilities, and goals. A collaborative approach involving medical professionals, therapists, family members, and the individual themselves is crucial for achieving the best possible outcomes.
Acupuncture improves stroke rehabilitation
According to the report from Cochrane Library, acupuncture may have beneficial effects on improving dependency, global neurological deficiency, and some specific neurological impairments for people with stroke in the convalescent stage, with no obvious serious adverse events (Yang et al. 2016).
Yang A, Wu HM, Tang JL, Xu L, Yang M, Liu GJ. Acupuncture for stroke rehabilitation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2016(8).