An Introduction to Stroke Rehabilitation

Intro to stroke rehab - woman with physical therapist

On average, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in the United States. It’s the third leading cause of long-term disability, and the path to rehabilitation can be an arduous one. Question is, when a stroke hits home, what happens next?

As part of our four-part blog series dedicated to American Stroke Awareness Month, this week’s post will cover stroke rehabilitation. What’s the first step? How does one choose a physical therapist? And what kind of resources should they seek out?

What Happens After Someone Has a Stroke

A stroke requires immediate medical attention, hospitalization, and sometimes even surgery. This is the time when doctors focus on controlling any life-threatening conditions, stabilizing the patient, and preventing another stroke or related complications. After this initial treatment, patients will begin the challenging work of relearning the movement and skills that might have been lost.

Although there are other aspects of stroke rehabilitation, such as speech therapy, cognitive therapy, and medication, much of the rehabilitation process will require motor skills exercises, movement and balance, and range of motion. For this core part of rehab, a good physical therapy clinic is a must.

What to Expect in Physical Therapy

In terms of the physical therapy regimen itself, rehabilitation for stroke survivors encompasses a few key areas of focus. A physical therapist will work with each stroke survivor to develop a tailored PT plan, specific to their situation. Typically, this plan will encompass:

  • Motor skills and coordination
  • Mobility
  • Range of motion

A post-stroke physical therapy program could be at an inpatient or outpatient facility, depending on the severity of the stroke. Indeed, some patients require more regular attendance at a dedicated nursing facility.

Choosing the right PT will require some research. While referrals from trusted physicians are ideal, it’s important to do seek additional information. Make phone calls, scour the web, and ask a lot of questions. Do you know anyone who has been through this? How did they choose their facility or physical therapy program? Talking to other people can provide some useful insights.

Questions to Ask the Physical Therapist

Stroke rehabilitation can be a long process with a lot of moving parts. Here is a cheat-sheet of good questions to ask your physical therapist before, during, and after your stroke rehab program.

  • Is my insurance accepted?
  • Do you have a lot of experience with stroke survivors?
  • What are the goals and timetable of this program?
  • What challenges can I expect during therapy?
  • Are there limitations to what I can and can’t do?

How AlterG® is Deployed in Stroke Recovery

Many modern stroke rehabilitation programs will employ new technology and tools to better control movement, monitor progress, and potentially speed up the pace of recovery. The AlterG® Bionic Leg, for example, helps to control movement and strengthened weakened limbs. The Anti-Gravity Treadmill allows a PT to reduce a body-weight load in precise increments, ideal for exercising in a safe and controlled environment.

Stay tuned to the AlterG® blog as we continue our blog series dedicated to Stroke Awareness Month. Our next post will take an even closer look at all the innovative ways AlterG® is used during stroke rehabilitation.

Are you looking for a physical therapist that specializes in stroke rehabilitation?  Find a clinic near you with an AlterG.