A stroke, depending on its severity, can leave one in a very compromising state. The purpose of post-stroke rehabilitation is not to cure the damage to the brain. It is to give the patient a chance in improving the quality of life and an opportunity to be independent.
No one likes to be fully dependent on others for even the most basic of functions like dressing and toileting. The first six months after a stroke is crucial in the healing process. There are different stages in the road to recovery from a stroke, and in as much as this period is the most important. Some people continue to recover, long after the six months have passed.
When a stroke occurs, the rehabilitation begins soon after the patient has been stabilized. This is normally in the 24 to 48 hour time frame. This involves encouraging movement as the stroke severely weakens or paralyses the patient. The rehabilitative sessions are engaging and intensive as recovery occurs during the first six months.
The focus here is to achieve functional movement and limb strengthening in the affected parts of the body. Patients are encouraged to keep changing sleeping positions and keep doing light exercises .These exercises can either be ones they can do on their own and those that have to be aided by the therapist. The muscles at this stage are completely flaccid and there is little or no movement in affected limbs.
During the first month there is movement in the affected limbs, mostly involuntary and is a good sign. If there are any voluntary movements at this stage, they are minimal. With persistent and regular therapy, there is increased motor movement, though it is largely involuntary. The movements are tiny, abnormal, jerky, and look like spasms. These are actually a promising sign that healing is a possibility.
Decrease in spasms
Between month one and three, there is a decrease in the spasm like movements and they become a bit more controlled. Motor capability starts to be regained in affected limbs. Muscles are stronger, but jerky movements once in a while occur. Progressively, as the spastic movements decrease, the patient is able to coordinate movements better .During therapy, the patient is compelled to make use of the affected limbs. This is achieved by the good limbs being constrained and the patient is left with no option but to use the affected limbs.
Between the fourth to sixth months, and with diligent exercise and therapy, the spasms fade. The patient can now coordinate movements and can move limbs with less effort. Therapy also includes stretching and moving the limbs in rotating movements, and prevents muscles from degenerating.
The patient’s journey to recovery is also pegged to an extent on the patient’s frame of mind. It is important that the patient be of a positive mind, work hard and get support from family. CVA treatment in Toronto is as advanced as anywhere else in the world. There are many different types of therapy – physiotherapy is the most common method known, but there is also Intensive Suit Method, Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy, and acupuncture amongst several other methods.
It is clear that the first six months are critical in the patient’s recovery process and the sooner the patients get to hospital after the stroke, the faster they are on their way to recovery. The flaccidity of muscles and spasticity should not be a bad indicator. The spasms like movements are an indication of recovery possibilities. It is also factual to say that since people recover at different rates, some may continue to regain their skills even after the six months are gone.