How Physical Therapy Can Help Stroke Patients Recover

Health & Medical Blog

If your aging loved one has suffered a stroke, he or she may have limited mobility on one or both sides of the body. While certain physical deficits may be permanent after a stroke, physical therapy may help the patient regain use and sensation of the affected body parts. Here are some ways physical therapy may help your loved one recover after a stroke, and why it is an essential component of a stroke therapeutic plan of care.

Improved Stair Climbing

Following a stroke, the ability to climb and go down stairs may be severely compromised. The physical therapist will work with your loved one on a makeshift staircase to help improve body strengthen, balance, and range-of-motion.

The longer the stroke patient practices stair climbing and descending, the more confidence he or she will enjoy. Not only can a stroke can impair physical mobility, but it can also cause psychological impairments such as an increase in fear, confusion, and agitation. During physical therapy, a special device known as a gait belt will be worn around your loved one's waist for the therapist to hold onto so that the patient does not fall. This will eliminate the fear of walking and will help improve stability when ambulating. 


If a stroke patient's neurological deficits have caused muscle spasticity, involuntary movements, loss of balance, weakness, and pain may occur. Working with a physical therapist may help reduce muscle spasticity, improve limb strength, prevent muscle wasting and atrophy, and enhance circulation. Although complete resolution of residual muscle spasticity may not be obtained, physical therapy may greatly improve the stroke patient's level of function.

In addition to therapy, the physician can prescribe medication that will help relieve muscle spasms so that the person can better tolerate his or her therapy sessions and enjoy a more pain-free recovery period. While a physical therapist can help reduce muscle spasticity of the lower extremities, your loved one may need to work with an occupational therapist to relieve upper body spasticity of the hands and arms.

If your loved one has suffered a stroke, talk to the physical therapist about how he or she can help the patient recover. Stroke patients may benefit from in-patient therapy services, or if this is inappropriate for your loved one, outpatient therapy services may be recommended by the patient's neurologist. Regardless of which physical therapy program your loved one participates in, he or she will enjoy an improvement in symptoms so that he or she can be more productive and pain-free.


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