Things to Expect During Post Stroke Rehabilitation

Cerebral infarction is serious and frequent so post-stroke rehabilitation is important and requires constant work from the patient, their treating team, and family members.
Things to Expect During Post Stroke Rehabilitation

Last update: 11 October, 2021

Post stroke rehabilitation is important as cerebral infarction (a stroke) is the leading cause of disability in adults in developed countries. Its severity and the incidence of sequelae make it an emergency situation. It’s precisely due to the sequelae that rehabilitation must be a priority.

In fact, it’s necessary for a person to be able to go back to their normal life as much as they can. Today’s article will describe this process.

What’s a stroke?

Also known as cerebral infarction or embolism, it’s a condition of common interest. This is because it’s the main cause of thousands of deaths every year. There are two types of stroke:

  • Ischemic
  • Hemorrhagic

Indeed, the mechanism of production is different but the end results are the same. The blood flow stops in the area of nerve tissue this vessel nourishes, due to a blockage or rupture of a cerebral blood vessel.

In short, the nerve tissue in that area doesn’t get enough oxygen and dies, leading to the loss of any functions controlled by that part of the brain.

What are the symptoms of a stroke?

It’s an acute and fast pathology most of the time. What this means is that the symptoms develop and the brain injury occurs in just a few minutes. Symptoms appear gradually in some instances but it’s not as common.

The symptoms vary depending on the injured side of the brain:

  • Tingling or muscle weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Difficulty speaking, reading, or understanding what others are saying
  • Vision distortion in one eye
  • A severe headache
  • Loss of balance and coordination
A man with a headache.
Headache is a classic sign of a stroke in process.

Learn how to perform First Aid for Strokes

Consequences

The after-effects of a stroke depend on the blood vessel affected, as it’ll determine the injured area of the brain. They also depend on the person’s current health, and especially on the other risk factors they already had. Finally, and importantly, the effects depend on the speed with which they get to a doctor.

Health personnel activate an emergency code in health centers when they suspect a person may be experiencing a stroke. This is so they can take action as quickly as possible. Why? Because the longer a part of the brain goes without blood irrigation, the more tissue will die and the worse the consequences will be. As you can see, emergency treatment is essential to minimize sequelae.

The importance of post-stroke rehabilitation

Rehabilitation after a stroke won’t reverse the brain damage caused by a stroke though. It’ll try to minimize the consequences — both physical and psychological. Also, they’ll try to enable a patient to adapt to their daily life as much as possible.

Post-stroke rehabilitation must begin as soon as a patient is clinically stable, in the same hospital where they’ve been admitted. It’ll then continue outside the hospital.

For one, the patient may have to relearn to perform basic functions such as talking, moving certain parts of the body, and even controlling their sphincters.

The length of rehabilitation after a stroke will depend on both the patient and the extent of the damage. It can be a slow and lengthy process.

How is post-stroke rehabilitation carried out?

Since it’s a complex process that involves many factors concerning the person, rehabilitation requires a multidisciplinary team. Physicians, physiotherapists, psychologists, speech therapists, and occupational therapists will form a group that’ll try to cover all the patient’s needs.

As we mentioned above, it’ll begin as soon as the patient is stable — in the first 24 to 48 hours after the stroke. Physicians will make a complete assessment of the patient’s condition and possible prognosis for recovery.

Once they discharge the patient, treatment will continue both at home and in rehabilitation centers, several days a week. Here it’ll depend on the proximity and transportation available to the patient.

An image with three views of a head.
Rehabilitation should begin as soon as a patient is stable after a stroke.

Learn about the Stroke Risk Factors and Symptoms

The importance of working at home

Physicians will give guidelines and exercises to their patients. These may have to go several days, or even every day of the week, to the hospital and it’s important for them to do what they can at home. These are usually basic and easy exercises and practices adapted to every person’s condition.

In addition to the patient, their friends and relatives must be there to support them through this process. They also must take the patient to any appointments for check-ups and rehabilitation sessions so that they know what’s going on throughout the process and how it’s evolving.

Post-stroke rehabilitation requires perseverance

A stroke is a serious and complicated condition, with many high possibilities of leaving sequelae behind. The constant work of the multidisciplinary team, as well as that of the patient and their environment, is essential for the improvement and adaptation to happen as quickly and comfortably as possible.

Of course, not all people will improve to the same degree, but rehabilitation personnel will always try to help them recover as much as possible. Finally, consistency is the key to it all.

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