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All About Stroke Rehab – What comes next?

All About Stroke Rehab - What comes next?

Stroke – it’s a scary word for many of us. Most people have heard the word, and have a general idea of what it looks like. Some of you may even know someone who has experienced a stroke of some kind. While most people have a general understanding of strokes and what they mean, most people have little understanding of what the RECOVERY looks like. Here’s some insight into stroke recovery and what we can do to help.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), occurs when there is a stoppage of blood flow to the brain, which causes damage to the brain cells as a result of lack of oxygen. This stoppage of blood flow can be caused by a clot in the blood vessel or a ruptured vessel. Depending on the length of time and location of the damage, the impacts of a CVA can vary drastically. This can include one-sided muscle weakness, speech impairments, disturbances in gait and overall mobility, as well as cognitive changes. It can also result in focal or global impairments to cerebral function.

Typically when you think of an individual who experiences a CVA, the first thing to pop into your head is age – strokes are for older adults. But did you know that strokes can occur at any point over a person’s life-span? From prenatal to infancy, to middle age – it can happen to anyone, with the right mix of risk factors.

Did you know that when a child under 3 has a stroke, it’s diagnosed as Cerebral Palsy? Check out this post about 5 ways to effectively treat Cerebral Palsy in Children.

There are 3 main types of strokes – Ischemic, Hemorrhagic and Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

Infographic on the 3 types of strokes - Ischemic, Hemorrhagic & Transient Ischemic Attack

Each type of CVA has a different cause and risk factors.

Ischemic Stroke

  • Most common type of CVA – 87% of the population experience this type of stroke
  • A clot or embolism blocks the flow of blood, and therefore oxygen, to the brain
  • Risk Factors
    • Atherosclerosis
    • High Blood Pressure
    • Previous stroke or TIA experience
    • Family history & genetic abnormalities
    • Smoking
    • Obesity
    • In children – Genetics, environmental factors, and congenital malformations play a large role in the likelihood a child experiences a stroke

Hemorrhagic Stroke

  • Typically caused by a rupture of blood vessels that lead to the brain, causing a brain bleed. This build-up of blood creates pressure, which causes cell death and further damage
  • Risk Factors
    • Bleeding disorders
    • Head injury or trauma
    • Cerebral aneurysms

Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)

  • Short period of stroke-like symptoms that usually lasts a few minutes to a few hours, and is caused by a temporary blockage of blood flow
  • Typically do not cause permanent brain damage
  • Can be a predictor of a major stroke to come in the future

How do I know if someone is having a Stroke?

Recognizing the signs of a stroke is vital to preserving the best outcome possible. Thankfully there is an easy acronym that helps us remember – FAST.

Infographic on the FAST Acronym - Facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty & Time

In the case of a stroke, the FASTer we recognize the signs, the earlier we can get them medical attention and intervention, and the more we can minimize the devastating effects. After all, time is brain!

Recovery is possible!

The thought of experiencing a stroke may be scary, but the truth is there is so much potential for recovery! There are so many possibilities when it comes to physiotherapy treatment and stroke rehabilitation. With first-hand experience working with stroke patients, our staff use techniques that are task-oriented and allow for specific muscle activation in order to help regain functional independence.

Our unique cage system, the Universal Exercise Unit, allows us to effectively strengthen the muscles affected and improve functional abilities. In addition to our spider suspension system, we can enable patients to perform movements they typically wouldn’t be able to on their own!

We have seen patients who initially weren’t able to sit independently, and can now stand up unassisted after treatment. With intensive physiotherapy, these individuals would go through vigorous functional, task-specific exercises with a specific goal in mind. We are always so inspired to see how fast our clients are able to progress and reach their goals (and sometimes beyond!) from our stroke rehabilitation program.

If you or a loved one has recently experienced a stroke, you likely have lots of questions, and that’s okay! “How will this impact our family?”, “Will they ever walk again?” “Can they live an independent life?”. These are all valid questions. Your primary healthcare providers – including your physiotherapist – can work with you to shed light on what the future looks like. Our experience and training working with patients who’ve experienced neurological impairments, like CVA’s, has led us to believe every individual has potential! We want to ensure that we meet your goals and strive to get you back to being as functional and independent as possible!

What can stroke treatment look like?

Physiotherapy treatment for stroke can ke use of many different interventions. These can include:

  • Task-specific electrical stimulation/functional electrical stimulation
  • Improving flaccid or spastic muscle tone
  • Learning (and re-learning) motor control & movement patterns
  • Improving general strength and balance
  • Weight-bearing on stroke side while reaching and grasping with the non-stroke arm
  • Practicing functional movements with facilitation, including sit to stand

With the exceptional training and experience of our staff, as well as the unique equipment and services we offer, we can help your loved ones reach their potential.

Neurodevelopmental Treatment

Neurodevelopmental treatments (NDT) have been proven to be one of the most effective interventions in the treatment of stroke. NDT utilizes the idea of neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to build new neurological connections from learning and practicing new tasks. It allows patients to have a better awareness of their body, as a lot of the time, patients who experience a stroke end up neglecting the affected side of the body. NDT involves the practice of well-executed functional movements, weight-bearing on the stroke side, and facilitation techniques, all in proper alignment. Sound like you’ve heard that before? This is also what our cage system helps our patients do! This aids in performing movements such as sit to stand, walking, and even going up the stairs.

Facilitation

All of our staff are trained to develop an individualized, unique exercise program to ensure each patient can meet their goals. This can include specific hands-on techniques that they feel will be most effective for their patients.

Facilitation is a method that allows patients to have a better understanding of their body and helps them to engage muscles during specific functional tasks, such as sitting, reaching, and walking. Through the use of tactile touch on the muscles which have been affected most heavily by a stroke, patients can develop more awareness of those muscles. This then enables them to be more aware of how to use these muscles when performing functional movements.

The Universal Exercise Unit (UEU)

The Universal Exercise Unit (UEU), or cage as we sometimes call it, allows us to help isolate and strengthen muscles while in proper alignment. It also helps us to ensure the appropriate muscles are being recruited during movement.

In combination with the Cage system, we use a bungee suspension to enable our patients to practice weight-bearing with a sense of security and balance, so they feel secure in their exercises. It even allows us to un-weight our patients to make it easier to execute functional movements while in alignment in order to re-learn or correct movement patterns. Our Cage system features a tracking unit, which follows patients as they move, allowing them to practice weight-bearing on their weaker or affected side in order to help return to movement and ambulation.

TASES and FES

3 Muscle Stim Units stiting on a table with electrodes and wires

Task-specific electrical stimulation (TASES), or functional electrical stimulation (FES), is another great tool we use in conjunction with our typical treatment methods to help achieve specific results.

The purpose of FES or TASES is to teach your body how to activate a specific muscle for a specific functional task. For example – sitting, walking, running, or reaching. Your physiotherapist will find the right combination of muscles to stimulate during a specific activity to bring on an immediate in-session change, and even create a carry-over for the next 1-2 days. It may even be an option to continue at home to create a more permanent, lasting effect!

The Therasuit Intensive Physiotherapy Program

One of the most effective short-term treatment services we offer is our intensive physiotherapy program. While not a replacement for regular, consistent treatment, intensive physiotherapy allows a patient to achieve a specific functional goal in a shorter period of time. By completing treatment more often for a longer duration, patients are able to make larger gains in a shorter time period.

Our intensive physiotherapy program also utilizes the Therasuit Methodology. The Therasuit is a wearable orthotic device that used only during intensive sessions to aid in patients’ alignment during exercise and help recruit targeted, specific muscle groups. The combination of this device, the Cage System, and our physiotherapist’s knowledge and experience, creates the opportunity for more and more gains for our patients!

All of these treatment methods and tools allow our staff to put our patients on the road to functional independence!

Want to get in touch with us to discuss your options, and see how we can help you meet your goals? Click the link below! Or take a look at our Instagram to see what new and exciting things are happening at All About Kids Rehabilitation Centre!

FAQ

What are the 5 warning signs of a stroke?

The 5 warning signs of a stroke are sudden onset:

– Numbness or weakness on one side of the body
– Speech difficulty or confusion
– Dizziness or loss of balance
– Difficulty seeing through one eye
– Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Exactly what a person experiences can vary greatly, but the best thing you can do is remember the acronym FAST and call 9-1-1.

What are the 3 types of strokes?

Ischemic
Hemorrhagic
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) – also known as a “mini-stroke

How serious is a stroke?

A CVA is a serious life-threatening medical event which always requires immediate medical attention. The faster medical treatment is found, the better the patients typical recovery.

What percentage of stroke patients make a full recovery?

According to the National Stroke Association, 10 percent of people who have a stroke recover almost completely, with 25 percent recovering with minor impairments. Another 40 percent experience moderate to severe impairments that require special care.

How long does it take to recover from a stroke?

Recovery is as unique as each person who suffers a stroke. Just as each person will have different impairments, the timeline for recovery will vary. For some, full recovery is possible with treatment but could take weeks, months, or even years. Others will have long-term impairments. It has been found that the most rapid recovery usually happens in the first 3-4 months after a CVA, but improvements have been seen up to 2 years post-stroke. Your care team will do everything they can to help you set reasonable expectations and meet your specific goals.

Other Resources

Here are some helpful links and resources if you want to know more about CVA treatment and rehabilitation, as well as what you can expect and how to find services in your area.

Healthcare team speaking with the patient - stroke recovery
Stroke Recovery Timeline
Heart and Stroke Foundation Logo
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada

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P: 647-598-7462

E: info@allaboutkidsrehab.ca

155 Queen St. E.

Mississauga, ON, L5G 4W2

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Friday: 8am-6pm

Saturday: 8am-3:30pm

Sunday: Closed

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