Physical Therapy for Stroke Prevention in Honor of American Heart Month

Anyone can experience a stroke, just ask Kate, a 31-year-old stroke victim.

If you, or a loved one, have experienced a stroke, then physical therapy should be at the forefront of your mind when thinking about recovery options.

In fact, 4 out of 5 strokes are preventable. So, even if you haven’t had a stroke, it is a good idea to do physical therapy and watch your blood pressure to help prevent one.

The National Stroke Association maintains a fantastic recovery guide for stroke patients that is worth reading to get ideas for treating a stroke victim with PT.

In honour of American Heart Month, I will do my best today to compile some other great information and resources to help stroke patients utilize physical therapy in their recovery.

Let’s start with some statistics to get motivated on our recovery journey.

Whether it is you or a loved one battling stroke recovery, it is going to be a challenge and staying motivated is key. By understanding the statistics we can make the case logically to pursue physical therapy to enhance our stroke recovery outcomes.

Here are some statistics on stroke patient’s recovery

Stroke patients are not alone, 795,000 adults in the U.S. suffer from stroke every year.

  • 10% of stroke patients experience a near complete recovery
  • 25% experience minor impairments but mostly recover
  • 40% require special care for moderate to severe impairments
  • 10% require a nursing home or some form of long-term care facility
  • 15% will die shortly after their stroke

So, these numbers should motivate you to do everything you can to recover from your stroke, including physical therapy for stroke patients. It will require dedication but it is worth it.

Physical therapists have been helping stroke victims for years and getting great results in the process.

Physical Therapy And Its Benefits For Stroke Patients

Scientific research conducted under the offices of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has proven that physical therapy has the potential to offer real improvement to the motor functions of individuals who have experienced a stroke.

In fact, according to the VA, PT is a top recovery recommendation for stroke victims.

Undertaken at the University of Florida, this study explored the impact of physical therapy on stroke patients who continued to struggle with lasting disability.

The research followed 39 individuals who had undergone typical treatment protocols for a year or more after their strokes. Two groups were created, with both showing a doubling of scores on a standard measurement scale of physical coordination.

The National Veterans Affairs Brain Rehabilitation Center director, Janis Daly, reports that the degree of rehabilitation shown in this study is more significant than that in any other previously published study.

Thus, it suggests that longer courses of treatment involving more intensive therapies following strokes really can make a difference in the lives of those who have been left more noticeably impaired by their stroke.

The Research Study on the Impact of Physical Therapy on Stroke Patients

During the study itself, one group was tasked with motor learning tasks for roughly five hours per day.

Daly asserts that motor learning work is akin to acquiring a new type of golf swing or tennis stroke. The stroke patients would set to work refining a new movement with as much concentration and effort as they could.

The second group would devote 3.5 hours daily to motor learning, but would also be treated with electrical or robot-aided stimulation treatments.

Their arms would be placed into a support, and these patients would concentrate on just their elbows. Employing a computer screen and robotic software, they would attempt to grasp imaginary items in their field of vision.

In these electrical-aided rehab sessions, the patient’s’ arms would be fitted with electrodes which would provide stimulation to the muscles of the forearms. Their hands would then be lifted via the electrical input.

Daly states that each stroke patient’s recovery process was unique unto itself. There were some who showed marked improvement, while others saw more modest gains.

There were those who regained the ability to perform key tasks that had been lost after the stroke. Others reclaimed the ability to place their arm in the proper position to perform certain types of daily tasks, such as getting dressed independently.

Physical Therapy Exercises for Stroke Patients

As always, please check with your physical therapist or physician before attempting these exercises to ensure that you are performing the correct therapy exercises for your specific needs.

Should you experience pain from these exercises then stop immediately and consult with your physical therapist.

Arm and Hand Exercises for Stroke Patients

WebMD provides some common arm and hand exercises for stroke patients, and below is a video demonstrating some therapy exercises for hands and arms of stroke patients.

Early muscle activation is crucial to recovering your damaged arm and or hand from stroke. So beginning therapy exercises as soon as possible after your stroke is important.

Leg Exercises for Stroke Patients provides some common leg exercises for stroke patients, and there is also a video below demonstrating some therapy exercises for stroke patients legs.

The therapy exercises vary from lying, sitting, and standing positions; keep in mind that you can adapt these positions to fit you or your stroke patient’s specific needs.

Be Proactive

Every year many people suffer from stroke. Some will die and others will never recover. But this doesn’t have to be you.

Take control of your stroke recovery with physical therapy treatment. Studies are proving that physical therapy for stroke patients is one of the most effective treatments for stroke.

If you or someone you know has experienced a stroke, please share your experience. How did the stroke patient recover from the stroke? Did they try physical therapy? Leave a comment below! 🙂

Crystal is a medical assistant who blogs at When she isn’t busy running around with her kids, or giving someone shots, you can find her blogging about medicine, healthcare, education, and tech.

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