What Are The Best Stroke Exercises?
A vital aspect of what stroke exercises to perform is determined by what part of the brain has been damaged by the stroke event. A stroke occurs when blood to the area is compromised and this results in decreased oxygen. It can also be called a CVA or cerebrovascular accident. The problems experienced post stroke are a result of the extent of the injury which relates to how much of the brain area was affected. Also relating to problems experienced is which side of the brain or part of the brain has been damaged.
Stroke exercises form an integral part of the recovery and rehabilitation process. The latest scientific research about the brain and recovery demonstrate a remarkable finding called ‘neuroplasticity’ with regards to the brain and the nervous system. Neuroplasticity is a combination of the words neurology which can refer to the brain and nervous system and the word plastic which refers to something soft and pliable. Basically science has found that the brain is a ‘plastic’ organ, which means it is not fixed or rigid but it is highly adaptable and able to change or mold. This concept is the process behind stroke recovery and people abilities to regain functions after a stroke. With regards to stroke exercises in very broad categories we can look at three main areas which are cognitive exercises, motor exercises and sensory exercises.
One aspect of stroke exercises should focus on cognition. Cognition can be defined as the processing of thought for example recalling a telephone number. For those that have suffered a CVA on the left side of the brain it is common to have some language related cognitive problems. This is usually referred to as an aphasia. Typically there can be difficulty with expressing speech or understanding speech despite nothing being wrong with speech production or hearing of the speech. The problem has to do with the brain’s processing of language which affects the understanding and expression of it. Cognitive exercises are therefore very important for post stroke recovery.
Probably one of the most common parts of rehabilitation for stroke involves motor rehabilitation. Motor is this regards refers to the movement of the body. Stroke survivors who have issues with movement might have a flaccid or limp limb that has little muscle tone or they may have spasticity in the limb which makes it rigid. Either way there can be difficulty with the movement of this limb and working on improving movement and coordination of any affected limbs is very important. Goals of regaining some independence such as walking, getting dressed, feeding oneself or getting out of bed are vitally important to help improve the quality of life for a stroke survivor.
Sensory disturbances may affect areas of the skin or the bodies ability to feel things. The area may feel numb or become unable to discriminate between hot and cold objects or sharp or dull objects. There may be just reduced feeling in the area where some feeling may be present but the level of sensitivity is very poor. The movement of limbs can be affected by these sensory problems because it can be difficult to move something you can not feel.
The need for specific stroke exercises to help a patient with their recovery and rehabilitation is very important. These exercises should target the symptoms that the stroke survivor is having and address the areas of the brain affected. A more tailored approach can help ensure the most recovery and speed up the process.