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Benefits Of Physical And Occupational Therapy After Stroke

by Terry Wilson

If your loved one has suffered a stroke, his or her physician has probably recommended physical and occupational therapy as part of the patient's stroke recovery treatment plan. In addition to physical and occupational therapy services, speech therapy may also be recommended if the stroke patient is unable to speak or swallow. Here are some benefits of participating in physical and occupational therapy programs after a stroke.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy focuses on rehabilitating the lower body. If your loved one has trouble walking because of partial paralysis or weakness, the therapist will implement a gait training program.

This will help the stroke patient overcome poor muscle control, weakness, spasticity, pain, and loss of balance. While many stroke patients can learn how to properly walk by themselves, gait problems such as limping or instability may be permanent. It is essential that stroke survivors regain their ability to walk because walking after a first stroke may help reduce the risk for a second stroke.

Walking, an aerobic exercise, also helps stroke patients reduce the risk for high blood pressure, a significant risk factor for heart attack and stroke. If your loved one has lost the ability to navigate stairs, the physical therapist will work with the patient on ascending and descending stairs. This is especially important if the patient has a multi-level home. 

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy focuses on rehabilitating the upper body such as the neck, arms, hands, and fingers. Stroke patients who are unable to hold cups or utensils, wash their faces, brush their teeth, or comb their hair will benefit from an intensive occupational therapy program.

Utensils are often difficult for stroke patients to grasp because spoons, forks, and knives are not easy to grip. The therapist with provide your loved one with utensils that have built up handles so that they are easier to grip and will not slip out of the person's hand. 

Brushes, combs, and toothbrushes are also available with built up handles so that your loved one is more confident holding them during grooming and tooth brushing. In addition, the occupational therapist will also teach the patient exercises that will promote arm strength so that the individual can raise and lower the arms easier.

If your loved one has physical deficits as a result of a stroke, talk to the physician about stroke recovery treatment options. When physical, occupational, and speech therapy programs are implemented quickly, the stroke patient will be less likely to develop long-term disabilities.