Stroke is a medical condition in which excess or lack of blood flow into the brain results in the death of cells. The two main types of stroke are Hemorrhagic and Ischaemic. From the onset of the basic symptoms like inability to move, slurred speech, blurred vision, inability to understand, reeling of the head, and sudden blackout, patients affected with stroke must be rushed to the hospital intensive care unit. However, along with immediate medical treatment, post-hospitalisation treatment that involves long-term rehabilitation programmes must be conducted to help recovering patients regain confidence and independence to carry on with their lives.
A patient, who has undergone medical treatment for stroke, must be admitted to a post-medical rehabilitation care unit as soon as they are released from the hospital. The first few days after release from the hospital play a vital role in shaping the road to recovery.
Depending on the severity of the stroke, rehabilitation units may include –
- An in-patient therapy unit in the hospital
- A sub-acute care unit
- A rehabilitation hospital with customised inpatient therapy
- Long-term nursing care
Rehabilitation processes depend on the type and intensity of stroke. The therapies that are involved in stroke rehabilitation are:
- Motor-skill Exercises: These are physical exercises that help improve muscle strength and coordination.
- Mobility Training: There are physical mobility exercises that are conducted through balancing and walking tools such as walkers, canes, or wheelchairs. These tools give support to the body and help the patient move around easily.
- Constraint-induced Therapy: This is also called force-used therapy. An unaffected limb is restrained while one practises movement of the affected limb.
- Range-of-motion Therapy: This therapy eases the tension of the muscles or their spasticity, helping patients regain their range of motion.
Technology-assisted Physical Activities
- Functional Electrical Stimulation: This involves conducting electricity to the weakened muscles and making them contract, which in turn helps re-energise the muscles and joints.
- Robotic Technology: This involves the use of robotic devices like Ekso, Erigo, Armeo Power, and Balance Master. These devices help patients move their limbs, straighten their spine, and regain balance gradually.
- Wireless Technology: This is an activity monitor that helps increase physical activities after stroke.
- Virtual Reality: This involves the use of computers and video games in which there is a simulated environment to act in, and increase muscle coordination.
Cognitive and Behaviour Therapy
- Therapy for Cognitive Disorders: This involves occupational therapy that seeks to help patients revive cognitive skills, boost memory, understand and solve regular problems.
- Behaviour Training: After understanding the cognitive problems faced by the patient, behaviour training is conducted, which involves helping the patient regain proper behaviourial skills.
Speech and Swallow Therapy
- This entails speech therapy that helps patients revive lost abilities in speaking, writing, understanding speeches and holding conversations.
- The therapy also trains patients to strengthen their muscles to enable smooth swallowing.
Stroke rehabilitation may be short-term or long-term, depending on the level of trauma. Throughout the rehabilitation period, patients are trained to exercise both physically and mentally, so that there is maximum retention of abilities and revival of independence. The objective of rehabilitation is to limit any post-stroke complication and give back an independent lifestyle to recovering patients.