How physiotherapy helps stroke victims

A stroke Victim at a Physiotherapy session

A stroke can have a serious impact on movement, sensation, balance and co-ordination and the aim of physiotherapy is to help regain as many of these abilities as possible. The severity of the stroke will dictate how much recovery is possible, but physiotherapy works to maximise potential recovery.

Normally a stroke affects one side of the body and the affected side will often feel weak and heavy, which makes it more difficult for the person to move.

In order to compensate for the weaker side, the stronger side becomes dominant and overactive to compensate for the weaker side. This means that a person who has had a stroke will tend to rely heavily on the stronger side of their body.

A physiotherapist will assess the alignment and activity of various body parts, and the physiotherapy treatment will focus on getting the side affected by the stroke to move more effectively.

Every person who has had a stroke has different degrees of difficulty in the activities of daily living. Physiotherapy will address the particular problems at the time of treatment. Generally the aim will be to help with mobility and balance.

If the stroke is severe, this could mean helping with getting from bed to chair or on and off the toilet. If the stroke is mild and the person young and previously fit, this could mean help with running and jumping, and returning to sport

The recovery of movement is most marked in the first 3 months following a stroke but progress can still be made many years after a stroke. The degree of recovery depends on many factors, the most important being the severity of damage caused to the brain by the stroke.

Individual assessment and treatment is the best way to plan physiotherapy to help with specific problems.

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