While a stroke is not a death sentence, experiencing a stroke can be a devastating event for anyone.
It can be pretty shocking to realize that all the activities we take for granted daily are no longer within our abilities. Even more astonishing is the amount of mental and physical effort that coordinating our muscles will require.
When our bodies function normally, it can be easy to overlook the amount of muscular and mental strength that is required in that state.
Experiencing a stroke will make your world come crashing down around you. The inability to carry out activities of daily living and the need to constantly depend on other people can be especially difficult for people who are used to being independent.
The treatment you undergo after experiencing a stroke has three major goals;
- Preventing a recurrence of the stroke
- Regaining full function in the affected body parts
- Attaining a reasonable quality of life
In the battle to regain full function of your affected body parts, it is very important to come to the realization that function will not be restored in a day.
While it is important to work hard at physical therapy, you should always stay within the recommendation of your therapist to ensure you do not cause further damage to your body’s tissues.
Your physical therapist will likely have you working on the part of your body affected by the stroke as well as the unaffected part.
There are a few exercises that are generally recommended for stroke patients.
These exercises are designed to have low impact on your joints and strengthen your body.
Exercises for the Legs
You will likely need a lot of support to carry out any leg exercises in the period directly after your stroke.
Your physical therapist will likely begin with exercises that do not put any weight on the legs. This is because your mobility may be completely gone.
Your therapist will likely start you off with leg curls and move your legs through a range of motions (adduction, abduction, flexing, extending with support) for the first few days.
Even though it might be a little boring,repetition is your friend. You may have to do some exercises thousands of times and over again.
Afterward, he will likely progress you to standing and balance exercises. For this you are likely to need some form of support like a stool or a bench.
Your aim with this exercise is to restore some form of coordination, balance and strength to your legs.
Most of you exercises will include weight training, resistance training, strength training and active range of motion exercises.
Most of your exercises will need some form of support. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to stop when you need it. Straining your body further will not do you any good.
Exercises for the Arms, Forearms and Hands
Your exercises will involve a lot of stretching. Stretching the inner arms, forearms, wrist and core at the same time can help improve coordination and strength.
If there is weakness in the arms, these exercises may need to be done with the assistance of someone else for a while.
In addition to this, you can also do seated pushups, weight training, balancing, gross motor skills exercises and scapula movement exercises as you get more advanced.
Try as much as possible to perform these exercises within the limits provided by your physical therapist. As your progress becomes more visible, your therapist will also increase the intensity and duration of your exercise regimen.
Exercises for Core Strength
You will have to engage in exercises to strengthen your core. Some exercises your therapist will recommend include bridging, strength training, light balancing and seated pushups.
One way to strengthen the part of your core affected by the stroke is to do forced exercises that engage the affected part. Basically, try to use that part as much as possible within reason.
In addition to these forms of exercise, you can also engage in balance exercises.
Exercises for the Eyes and Facial Muscles
If the control you have of your eyes and face was affected by the stroke, you may need to work on these as well. While eye exercises are often overlooked in rehabilitation, they can be very important to achieving a better field of vision and reducing visual impairment.
Always ask your therapist about eye movement exercises if you are having trouble after your stroke.
Though the exercises your therapist recommends may seem a little silly, try to have some faith and do them religiously.
In the same vein, you may need to work on swallowing, speech and cognitive function. Your therapist may have experience in these areas or may refer you to someone else.
Therapy for strokes that cause these kinds of impairment will involve some sensory reeducation, memory and cognitive exercises, etc.
You may not believe it now but people make full recoveries from stroke and get even healthier in the process. Remember to always work with a licensed physical therapist to ensure proper recovery and prevent further damage.
Remember, your goal is not just recovery but preventing a recurrence and restoring quality of life.
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