Stroke Recovery Exercises

Stroke recovery exercises play an important role in the recovery stage after a stroke. According to the studies, the rehabilitation process has a positive effect on the patients. Let's see what these exercises are.
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Stroke recovery exercises are a part of the long term stroke rehabilitation treatment. It is important that these exercises are started at the earliest after a stroke. In some cases, the brain is able to recover some of its function and in some cases, the brain teaches the other portions of the brain to take charge of the damaged functions. These workouts are helpful in either of the situation, as they are able to stimulate the cells of the brain. Let us read a little about stroke rehabilitation before we turn towards the dedicated exercises.

Stroke Rehabilitation
Stroke rehabilitation is a process in which a patient, who has suffered from stroke, works with the health care professionals to regain functions of the body lost after the stroke. It is important, that a stroke survivor joins a stroke rehabilitation program as soon as he is fit, in order to maximize the chances of recovery. It is observed that in most of the cases, the patient is able to regain a major portion of functions, that were lost due to the stroke. The rehabilitation process is dependent on the type of stroke suffered by the patient, but on an average, the patient has to spend 16 to 20 days in the rehabilitation center. After the in house therapy sessions, the patient has to also follow the rehabilitation process outside facility.

Exercises for Stroke Recovery
The stroke rehabilitation exercises help in increasing the use of extremities of the body, strengthening the weakened muscles, increasing endurance and also help in regaining functions of the affected body part. A small tip is to remember to stretch the muscles a little in order to warm them up before you start exercising, so as to prevent injuries.

Range of Motion
Often after a stroke, a patient may not have voluntary control over one or both the sides of the body. At this stage, it is important to move the different body parts through the possible range of motion. This moving of the body parts helps in keeping the muscles flexible and the joints lubricated. If there is a family member or care giver present with the patient, he is often given the instructions, to teach them proper movements of shoulder, elbow, wrist, fingers, hips, knees and ankles. In these set of exercises, there are also arm and leg lift exercises, which can easily be done in the bed itself. An important instruction is not to force the patient to go beyond his/her limits.

A step forward in the range of motion is active and assisted range of motion. After the patient has recovered some strength in this limbs, the patient is encouraged to use the muscles more actively. Often, the patient is helped by someone else in these motions. The exercises include the ones to be done either with assistance from the unaffected limb or with a cane.

After assisted stage comes the active resisted range of motion. When the patient reaches this stage, the patient is able to move his extremities without any sort of assistance. Now is the stage, when weights are added to the exercises, so that there is some resistance, as the patient works out. Resistance bands can also be used.

Coordination, Balance, and Stability Exercises
After gaining strength in the limbs, the next important step is to gain coordination in the affected limbs. Some of the most common exercises prescribed in this stage are to lift the affected leg and place the heel on the other leg, sliding the heel of the affected leg to the shin of the opposite legs, etc. Oftentimes it is observed, that a person does not have stability in his torso after a stroke. Hence, standing and sitting balancing exercises are prescribed. There are a number of yoga poses too, which are beneficial to recover from a stroke. Use of exercise balls is often a common phenomena for balance and stability.

Pool Exercises
Some patients find it difficult to manage their own weight. For such patients, pool therapy may be recommended. Water gives the required buoyancy and the weight is taken off the joints. At the same time, these sessions are less painful, than the other physiotherapy sessions.

Brain Exercises
To sharpen the cognitive skills and to improve the health and functionality of the brain, memory games may be given to the patient. Many patients also suffer from memory loss after a stroke. For such patients brain exercises are of great help.

To recover from a stroke, dedication and perseverance will be required. Recovery from a stroke is a difficult and a lengthy process in which, the exercises have an important role to play. At the end, all I would like to say is that do not lose hope as recovery from a stroke is not an impossible task. Take care!
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Published: December 9, 2009
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