Stroke is one of the leading causes of death worldwide. The impact of stroke complications on human body and recuperation time varies. Recovery from stroke could be a long-term one (perhaps even a few years). This recovery revolves around making modifications and adapting to physical, social and emotional aspects of living. These changes prevent recurrence of stroke and also aid in lifetime recovery.
Post-stroke rehabilitation is a crucial aspect of recovery after stroke. The primary goal of this is to help the patient relearn the skills lost as stroke affects the brain parts. Hence stroke rehabilitation helps in regaining self-confidence and independence of patients thereby improving quality of life after stroke.
Stroke Treatment Guidelines
These are clinical practice guidelines for Health Care Professionals (HCPs) covering entire continuum of stroke care for
- Pre-hospital care
- Early diagnosis and assessment
- Acute medical and surgical management
- Secondary prevention
- Managing Complications
- Discharge Planning and Transfer of Care
- Community Participation and Long Term Care
Treatment of Stroke
Stroke treatment involves participation in focused and customized stroke rehabilitation programmes for a quick recovery. Several approaches may be taken, depending type of ability or body part impaired by stroke attacks-
- Stroke recovery exercises – Following activities may be done for improving the physical strength of patients after a stroke:
- Motor-skill exercises and work-outs for improving muscular strength and coordination and also strengthening the ability to swallow food.
- Mobility enhancement using aids like walkers, walking canes, wheelchair or ankle braces. These aids stabilize, strengthen and support the body weight thereby facilitating the patient to relearn walking.
- Forced Used or Constraint-Induced therapy to overcome the restraining of unaffected limb while improving the movement functionality of affected limb.
- Therapies for easing muscle tension (spasticity) for helping patients regain range of motion.
Further, several physical activities may be done with assistance of technology:
- Functional Electric Simulation for rejuvenating weakened muscles
- Robotics for regaining strength in impaired limbs
- Wireless Technology for monitoring post-stroke activities
- Virtual Reality for enhancing interactions in real time, simulated environments
- Medications for Stroke – Physicians may recommend anti-depressants for coping up with emotional problems or medications for improving alertness and movements and reducing agitation in stroke patients.
- Additionally, several experimental therapies are being explored thanks to technology advancements and research. This includes like Non–Invasive Brain Simulation, Biological Interventions as Stem Cell Therapy and Alternative Medicines(Massage/Herbal Therapy/Acupuncture)
- Therapies for addressing Cognitive and Emotional Aspects – Several therapies may be recommended for compensating loss of memory and communication skills in stroke cases:
- Speech Therapy for Communication Disorders which rebuilds lost abilities in speaking, writing, comprehending and listening.
- Psychological Therapy for evaluating the patient’s emotional adjustments issues in the post-stroke period. Patients may be counselled or enrolled in support groups.
- Occupational and Speech Therapy for tackling Cognitive Disorders – These therapies help in doing daily activities and restoring lost cognitive skills like memory, problem-solving and processing , socialisation skills, judgmental abilities and safety awareness.
Improving Memory after Stroke
Usually many stroke survivors have memory impairments. This is treated by activating neuroplasticity which is the inherent capacity of the brain to rewire its neurons to form new connections in its healthier portions. Memory Improvement may be done by:
- Association by focusing on aids like pictures, sounds and meaning.
- Visualization for recollecting some activity that needs to be done.
- Practicing consistently with repetition and extra intention for making associations and visualization. Playing memory games is also beneficial.
- Listing down important information
- Creating and maintaining a regular routine
- Taking adequate rest
- Consciously paying extra attention
- Avoiding overexertion
- Simulating brain by experimentation