Stroke Rehabilitation- Physical Medicine And Rehabilitation

Stroke also known as cerebrovascular accident is a medical emergency which happens when blood flow to the brain is impaired. Ischemic stroke is the more common kind of stroke which is caused when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain. The second type of stroke is called as hemorrhagic stroke is caused when a blood vessel breaks and bleeds into the brain. Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, loss of balance, dizziness are some of the symptoms associated with stroke.

Stroke rehabilitation is an important component of the recovery program for patients who have suffered a stroke. It helps patients regain independence and improve the quality of their life. The process of stroke rehabilitation depends on the severity of the symptoms. It starts in the hospital and continues at the patient’s home or the local clinic.

Medical Specialty – Neurologists (doctors who have specialized in treating the disorders of the brain) are the main doctors involved in developing the treatment plan for stroke patients. Physiotherapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and dieticians may also be involved in stroke rehabilitation.

What does stroke rehabilitation consist of?

  1. Physical activities like motor – skill exercises to improve muscle strength and coordination.  Mobility training may also be imparted to help patients use mobility aids such as walker, canes or wheelchair. Patients may be taught certain exercises to ease muscle tension and help them regain their range of motion.
  2. Cognitive and emotional activities are also a part of stroke rehabilitation. Lost cognitive activities such as memory, social-skills are taught to the patient. Patients may also undergo speech therapy and psychological evaluation and treatment.

Start and duration of stroke rehabilitation

It starts in the hospital and continues at the patient’s home or the local clinic. Generally, it is started 24-48 hours after the patient suffers from a stroke. Duration of the stroke rehabilitation depends upon the severity of the patient’s symptoms. Most patients need stroke-rehabilitation for a long duration which may continue for years after the stroke.

Factors affecting outcome of stroke rehabilitation-

  1. Severity of the stroke
  2. Motivation and mood of the patient
  3. Early start of stroke rehabilitation and skill of the stroke rehabilitation team is also very important
  4. Support of friends and family



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About the Author:

Dr. Anand Lakhkar is a physician scientist from India. He completed his basic medical education from India and his postgraduate training in pharmacology from the United States. He has a MS degree in pharmacology from New York Medical College, a MS degree in Cancer/Neuro Pharmacology from Georgetown University and a PhD in Pharmacology from New York Medical College where he was the recipient of the Graduate Faculty Council Award for academic and research excellence.  His research area of expertise is in pulmonary hypertension, traumatic brain injury and cardiovascular pharmacology.  He has multiple publications in international peer-reviewed journals and has presented his research at at prestigious conferences.