The objective of a stroke recovery or rehabilitation program is to help the affected individual relearn the skills that were lost due to this cerebrovascular event. According to the National Stroke Association, only 10% of stroke survivors recover almost completely. Thus, it is essential to perform certain exercises to stimulate the cells of the brain. Basically, during the stroke rehabilitation program, the healthcare professionals help the patient regain functions of the body lost after the stroke. Stroke survivors should join the rehabilitation program at the earliest so as to maximize the chances of recovery. The rehabilitation process is dependent on the type of stroke, 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
It is essential to increase the use of extremities of the body, thereby strengthening the weakened muscles and increasing endurance. Remember to stretch the muscles a little 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 will keep the muscles flexible and the joints lubricated. If a family member or caregiver is present, then he/she is often given instructions for teaching proper movements of shoulder, elbow, wrist, fingers, hips, knees, and ankles. Also, arm and leg lift exercises 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. In the next stage, 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. More often than not, a person does not have stability in his torso after a stroke. Hence, standing and sitting balancing exercises are recommended. There are a number of yoga poses, which can prove beneficial. Exercise balls can also be used for balance and stability.
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.
Many patients are affected by memory loss after a stroke. For such patients, brain games or exercises are of great help. Memory games can help sharpen the cognitive skills, and improve brain function.
Recovery from a stroke is a difficult and lengthy process. However, performing exercises can certainly prove beneficial. On a concluding note, do not lose hope, as recovery from a stroke is difficult but not an impossible task.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.