Are You Making These Mistakes With Your Stroke Therapy?

New advances in stroke therapy are helping stroke survivors more than ever. A stroke involves a loss of blood and oxygen to parts of the brain. The two main causes of strokes are ischemic and hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke implies a clot or embolism that has cut off the blood supply and a hemorrhagic is due to the blood vessel wall bursting. The end result is the same. An area of the brain has been deprived of oxygen and is damaged. The extent of disability after a stroke depends on many factors. The degree of damage and the area of the brain that has been damaged. However, all hope is not lost. New discoveries inĀ  stroke therapy are shedding light on how best to recover.

It is estimated that over 700,000 people every year suffer a stroke. Once a survivor has been stabilized the road of stroke recovery begins. Stroke therapy usually begins in an outpatient clinic or private specialist centre. After a certain time period stroke survivors are left to fend for themselves. Stroke therapy can be expensive and therefore a financial burden to have long extensive ongoing stroke therapy. This leaves more and more survivors and their families with shorter periods under professional guidance and looking to start some form of home rehabilitation.

Stroke therapy at home is easier said than done. It can be very confusing to know what to do, how to do it and for how long. A good starting point is to look at improving any deficits that a survivor may have. We can look at areas of the body and areas of the mind to make things easier. The body can be broken into the ability to move parts of the body and the ability to feel parts of the body. The mind can relate to deficits in ability to think, reason and remember. Common issues with the mind can include memory problems, language issues or spatial awareness.

In the body we look for any areas that are lacking sensation or feeling. These areas may feel numb to the survivor or have a feeling of pins and needles. There may be patches of skin that feel like this, whole limbs or one half of the body. Also with the body there may be areas that are paralyzed or unable to move. Although obvious but tailoring treatment to these areas and concentrating on them can really help make stroke therapy more efficient. With the mind depending on which hemisphere of the brain has been damaged we classically get two common issues. Issues with language denote damage to the left hemisphere of the brain and issues with spatial awareness relate to damage on the right side of the brain.

A whole world of exciting and revolutionary stroke therapy exists. Unfortunately the masses and the people who need it the most are usually not exposed to it. You can learn and perform cutting edged and advanced stroke therapy in the comfort of your own home. Imagine the possibilities.

New Research Gives At Home Stroke Therapy Thumbs Up

Can You Save Money with Stroke Therapy at Home But Still Get Results?

According to a new study, a rigorous home-exercise program which emphasizes flexibility, strength and balance ended up being just as effective as high-tech treadmill machines.

The home-based program in addition enjoyed a lower price tag plus a lower drop-out rate than the treadmill option, which in fact had to be done at a clinic.

The research released in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine also found that patients keep making strides in rehabilitation much longer than the typical small windows of believed recovery that are so commonly held to be true (e.g. recovery only happens in the first 3 months after a stroke).

Inside the largest stroke rehabilitation research ever conducted in the us, researchers discovered that stroke patients regain walking ability through at-home strength and balance exercise provided by a physical therapist – and that method worked equally efficiently as when they took part in programs that practice the specific task of walking, by using a treadmill and partial body weight support.

“For individuals who have suffered a stroke, the findings of this trial offer good news for improving walking within the first year post-stroke through intense physical therapy interventions,” said Andrea Behrman, co-principal researcher and an associate professor inside the department of physical therapy at the University of Florida College of Public Health and Health Professions.

The Locomotor Experience Applied Post-Stroke, or LEAPS, trial involved in excess of four hundred patients who were at random , assigned to a treadmill training group two or half a year after their stroke or to a home-based therapy program. Primary funding for the study originated from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Patients within the walking training group practiced walking inside a clinic, utilizing a treadmill using a system that gives partial body-weight support, also known as locomotor training. The home-based exercise treatment method program was closely watched by a physical therapist and centered on flexibility, ability to move, strength and balance.

At the one-year mark, fifty-two percent of all of the study contributors had made significant improvements within their walking ability. Both the walking training and exercise program individuals had similar advancements in walking rate, motor recuperation, balance, social participation and quality of life.

But the home-based exercise program may save on health-care costs and promote treatment adherence: Only 3 percent of individuals in the home-based therapy dropped out of the study while 13 % ceased the locomotor training.

“The home physical therapy program is more convenient and pragmatic,” said Pamela W. Duncan, the study’s principal investigator and a professor at Duke University School of Medicine. “Usual care should incorporate more intensive exercise programs that are easily accessible to patients to improve walking, function and quality of life.”

The study staff found that patients within the group who began the therapy half a year after their stroke likewise enhanced their walking. This discovery challenges the widely held belief that patients are only able to make gains in their rehabilitation within the first few months of a stroke, the study say.

“More than 4 million stroke survivors experience difficulty walking. Rigorously comparing available physical therapy treatments is essential to determine which is best,” said Dr. Walter Koroshetz, deputy director of National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. “The results of this study show that the more expensive, high-tech therapy was not superior to intensive home strength and balance training, but both were better than lower intensity physical therapy.”

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.