Rehabilitation After Stroke

Stroke is the number one cause of serious adult disability in the United States. Stroke disability is devastating to the stroke patient and family, but therapies are available to help rehabilitate patients after stroke.

Physical Therapy

For most stroke patients, rehabilitation mainly involves physical therapy. The aim of physical therapy is to have the stroke patient relearn simple motor activities such as walking, sitting, standing, lying down, and the process of switching from one type of movement to another.

To achieve this, stroke patients work with physical therapists who use training, exercises, and physical manipulation of the stroke patient's body to restore movement, balance, and coordination.

Occupational Therapy

Another type of therapy to help patients relearn daily activities is occupational therapy. This type of therapy also involves exercise and training. Its goal is to help the stroke patient relearn everyday activities such as eating, drinking and swallowing, dressing, bathing, cooking, reading and writing, and toileting. Occupational therapists seek to help the patient become independent or semi-independent.

Speech Therapy

Speech and language problems arise when brain damage occurs in the language centers of the brain. Due to the brain's great ability to learn and change, which is called brain plasticity, other areas can adapt to take over some of the lost functions.

Speech therapy helps stroke patients relearn language and speaking skills, or learn other forms of communication. Speech therapy is appropriate for patients who have no problems with cognition or thinking, but have problems understanding speech or written words, or problems forming speech.

Besides helping with language skills, speech therapy also helps stroke patients develop coping skills to deal with the frustration of not being able to communicate fully. With time and patience, a stroke survivor should be able to regain some, and sometimes all, language and speaking abilities.

Therapy for Mental Health

Many stroke patients require psychological or psychiatric help after a stroke. Psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, frustration, and anger are common disabilities in people who have suffered a stroke.

Talk therapy, along with the right medication, can help ease some of the mental and emotional problems that result from stroke. Sometimes it is helpful for family members of the stroke patient to seek psychological help for themselves as well.