Rehabilitation and Recovery for Stroke Patients

rehabilitation for stroke patients

Each stroke survivor’s journey is different. However, no matter the severity of your stroke and its impacts on your daily life and relationships, getting the support you need throughout recovery is essential. Rehabilitation (also called ‘rehab’) is there to help people get the most out of their lives after a stroke.

So, let’s discuss what life after a stroke can look like, and how getting into a rehab program can significantly improve your abilities, well-being and quality of life.

This blog outlines the role rehab plays in helping a person recover from a stroke. If you’re ready to enquire about rehab services for you or a loved one, contact MetroRehab today.

What is Stroke rehab?

Rehab for a stroke survivor aims to help them relearn skills and adjust to a ‘new normal’. It also involves education on how to prevent future strokes and linking into services once the survivor and their support people leave the hospital.

Rehab focuses on practice (including a lot of repetition!) to help someone relearn essential skills. Just as directed practice helps us to learn skills like playing an instrument, riding a bike or learning a new language, stroke rehab uses similar principles to retrain the brain and forge new neural pathways (or brain connections) lost due to brain injury.

Each stroke survivor has personal goals that are individualised to them. They may work on physical strength, coordination, sensation, walking and using stairs, ability to grasp objects, their ability to do daily tasks (such as showering, getting dressed, going to the toilet, eating and drinking), improving communication and retraining thinking skills… to think of a few! This will also change the team involved in their care.

As well as relearning skills, stroke rehabilitation also includes support and education to help teach new ways of navigating life and how to avoid another stroke.

For some survivors, full recovery may not be possible. However, through rehab we seek to help each stroke survivor find new ways of doing things that work for them, helping build independence.

Strokes can cause a variety of long-term changes. Depending on the progress a stroke survivor makes, they may require the prescription of equipment, changes to their home, changes to their job or workplace and/or support from other people.

Teaching stroke survivors how to bathe with limited mobility or how to use assistive devices to communicate are a couple of examples of what rehab programs can include to help adapt to life after a stroke. Change in a stroke survivor’s ability to do things and their level of independence can also affect mental health, relationships and intimacy.

The rehab team are there for counselling and to link survivors into the support they need to continue their recovery journey with the people they love.

Factors that affect rehab

There are many factors that can affect rehab, the improvements that a stroke survivor can make and where they can go once they discharge from the hospital. These may include:

  • The type of stroke and severity of damage to the brain
  • Age of the stroke survivor (recovery is often greater for children and young adults)
  • Other pre-existing medical conditions and medical complications experienced because of a stroke or while in hospital
  • Abilities prior to and post-stroke
  • Cognitive (thinking) skills including the ability to learn from one rehab session to the next
  • Motivation and mood
  • Support of family, friends, community groups and workplace
  • Home and work environments, equipment, and modifications such as handrails
  • The timing of when rehab commences post-stroke. The sooner a person is medically stable and starts to receive treatment, the more likely they are to achieve a greater degree of recovery**

** Stroke survivors may not be able to go straight from their acute hospital to rehab. Sometimes they do not show the ability to learn or progress with therapy, but do this after they leave. If this happens, they can request a referral for rehab through their GP or specialist.

A stroke survivor’s choice of rehab hospital can also affect their recovery. Not all rehab hospitals are created equal. MetroRehab has a team, equipment, facilities and services that cater to the specialist needs of stroke survivors.

Common post-stroke signs and symptoms

Let’s go through some of the symptoms a rehabilitation specialist and multidisciplinary team can help a stroke survivor manage.

Motor control (moving parts of the body) is a common problem faced by people who have suffered a stroke, as damage to the brain can cause significant issues with strength, sensation, range of movement and coordination. This could result in loss of body control and movement which affects things like walking, using your arms and hands in daily tasks such as showering, speech and swallowing, and/or going to the toilet (i.e., incontinence). If muscles tighten without conscious control or lose their ability to move as far as they should, the tissues and tendons may become tight (you may have heard the term ‘spasticity’) which can be painful.

Other common impacts of stroke can include changes in communication and cognition. Many stroke survivors find themselves struggling to express themselves or to understand others.  Some find that they have difficulty with focusing on, planning or sequencing tasks, memory, learning and evaluating risk. This can affect daily tasks such as getting dressed or more complicated things like driving a car or working.

Other forms of post-stroke symptoms include:

  • Sensory disturbances (including a change to the ability to feel touch and temperature, not knowing where a part of the body is in space, or experiencing pain)
  • Emotional challenges
  • Personality changes
  • Vision changes
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Difficulty regulating automatic body functions e.g., blood pressure

But we have come a long way in stroke rehab! Medications, therapies, equipment and services are constantly changing. Luckily, at MetroRehab, we do the hard work of reviewing and delivering current, best-quality care.

Contact MetroRehab for rehabilitation support

The effects of a stroke can be life-changing. Rehab programs can help stroke survivors achieve significant improvements to their abilities and provide education and management techniques that can improve their wellbeing and quality of life.

If you, a loved one or someone you know is looking for stroke rehab services that are tailored to an individual’s personal goals and needs, the MetroRehab team is ready to help. Contact us today to enquire about our rehab services.

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