An Effective Stroke Therapy Program
The use of stroke therapy will certainly form part of the stroke recovery process. This portion of the recovery phase is safe to start once the stroke survivor has stabilized. Once this has occurred the go ahead for stroke exercises will be given. Approximately 30 million people each year in America suffer a stroke. It can happen to anyone regardless of race, gender or age. We have come a long way to learning about how to prevent strokes with better lifestyle choices. Science has also helped us further stroke therapy by discovering new and improved techniques.
For the uninitiated stroke therapy can seem like a very daunting process. While I do not expect people to become a neuroscientist, I feel that some background understanding can go a long way to improving compliance with stroke rehabilitation and increasing motivation to undertake it. Understanding how the brain is wired up for functioning and how it will adapt to the stroke recovery process. This article will discuss three main principles needed for stroke therapy to be successful. The first principle is frequency. When we learn any new skill frequency is the key to helping the brain learn that skill. Secondly the volume and consistency of workload done needs to be enough to stimulate change but not over do it. And lastly the role of specificity. Specificity can lead to increased efficiency and speed stroke recovery.
A key aspect for stroke therapy is the frequency that stroke exercises are done. Exercises can be viewed as a form of stress that the body must change and adapt to. For example going to the gym and lifting weights is a form of stress. If applied with the correct amount of frequency the body will be forced to adapt and change. If your frequency was too low, like going to the gym once a week, it would not be enough to stimulate a change in the body. With a higher frequency, the body is forced to make changes to deal with the stress. This same principle is applied to stroke therapy, the exercises must be performed frequently enough to warrant a change in the brain.
Frequency is not the only variable to be concerned about when applying stroke therapy. With regards to stroke recovery you must also look at the volume or amount of work done with the stroke exercises. You want an amount of work that is adequate enough to stimulate the body to change. For example if you went to the gym but only walked on the treadmill for 5 minutes, your volume of work is probably too low to gain any real benefit to the heart and lungs. On the other hand if you had not worked up to it a volume of 2 hours on the treadmill may be too exhaustive and be detrimental to the body. So volume should be tailored based on individual needs and adjusted appropriately.
In conjunction with the above mentioned principles, you must add consistency to the mix for the best stroke therapy. The application of consistency over a period of time will yield the best stroke recovery results. Once again for ease of use we will use a gym analogy. If you have the right frequency and volume of exercise in the gym, but you only go for 2 weeks, can your body really change? Maybe a little. But big changes take a longer time frame, most probably 12 weeks. A long period like this of consistency with stroke exercises will ensure the best results.
An often overlooked part of stroke therapy is specificity of exercises. The brain is made up of many different parts that control different functions. To be more efficient with our stroke exercise we should use ones that are specific to the areas of the brain that need recovery. For example if you wanted to get better at swimming you wouldn’t run on a treadmill would you? That makes no sense. Yet I see poor application of inefficient exercises being given to or used by stroke survivors all the time. With the correct exercises the efficiency of stroke therapy effort can be maximized.
This article serves as a basis on the guiding principles of a stroke therapy program. Getting the right balance of all these keys will ensure the best results. I encourage people interested in stroke recovery or needing stroke rehabilitation to get up to date with the latest exercises and learn to be specific in your application of exercises for each individual as this will result in maximizing stroke recovery potential.