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How Physiotherapy Can Help Stroke Patients

How Physiotherapy Can Help Stroke Patients


Stroke Awareness Week is running this week from the 23-28th of April. This is a great opportunity to raise awareness of stroke and how to prevent and treat this medical event. Research has indicated that one in five people will have a stroke at some stage in their life. A majority of stroke victims are over the age of 65. , however, a stroke can strike at any age, even in children and younger individuals.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is caused when the blood vessels in the brain burst or are blocked. Blood vessels in the brain carry oxygen and nutrients. This causes an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain. This can damage or destroy brain cells which will affect body functions. For example, if the part of the brain that controls movement of a limb is damaged by the stroke, then the individual may have difficulty moving their arm or leg. Not only can body movement be affected, a stroke can affect an individual’s processing, communication, emotions and learning.

The Irish Heart Foundation have a fantastic website full of helpful information on learning about stroke and health improvements, support networks, CPR training and tips on how to live a healthier lifestyle. Click on this link to access their website.

Recovery following a stroke

To date, research of how the brain recovers after a stroke is still limited and we have much to learn. During a stroke some brain cells may on be briefly damaged and not killed, and may be able to resume normal functioning. There is evidence that in certain cases the brain can compensate for the damaged cells and re-organises its functioning. In some cases another area of the brain takes over from the area damaged by the stroke.

Recovery varies from person to person – some may make a complete recovery, while others may be left with some disabilities or difficulties in some areas. Some people often make a lot of recovery during the first year, but recovery can continue long after this. The recovery time is different for each person but generally takes longer with more severe strokes. Recovery is a gradual process as the brain takes time to heal.

How Physiotherapy can help?

Following a stroke, assessment and treatment planning begins very soon after the event. In all cases your rehabilitation will be tailored to your specific needs and depending on the level of disability. Here are some areas that your physiotherapist will help treat and aim to improve during your rehabilitation:

  • Positioning and stretching
  • Bed mobility and sitting balance
  • Standing and walking
  • Balance and coordination
  • Strength and sensation loss
  • Upper limb weakness
  • Fatigue and reduced endurance
  • Perception and proprioception difficulties- judging distance, neglect of a limb, awareness of joint or limb in space.

Your Physiotherapist may use different pieces of equipment during your treatment such as splints, standing aids, gym ball, exercise bike or arm ergometer, treadmill, walking aids, parallel bars, mirrors for visual feedback and much more.  The Physiotherapists main aim is to help you become as independent as possible in your activities of daily life, leisure activities, working, and socialising to the best level possible. The Irish Heart Foundation also have great information on support services, carers support, day services and centres. Here is a link for their website.

Contact the clinic to book an appointment with one of our trained Physiotherapist. Early morning and evening appointments are available.



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