By Jason Gluckman
In the U.S. around 70,000 people suffer a Stroke each year. Rehab is crucial to help the victims of Strokes cope with the effects of a Stroke and recover to a normal and healthy life.
How well a patient recovers from a Stroke depends on many factors. Minimizing brain damage during the Stroke will make Rehab faster and more effective. Rehab cannot cure the Stroke but can help in long-term recovery of the aftereffects of brain damage.
The first step would be to diagnose a Stroke. A number of tests may be done on the patient to diagnose the type of Stroke so that the professionals can determine a treatment and Rehab plan. This includes blood pressure, blood sampling, X-ray, E.C.G., Echocardiogram, brain scans such as MRI and CT scans, and Carotid Ultrasound scanning.
After the diagnosis the medical treatment begins. During a Stroke brain tissue is damaged by blood clots (ischemic Stroke) and /or internal bleeding (hemorrhagic Stroke). Various drug treatments must be started immediately to treat this condition. If used soon enough, they can help prevent damage to the brain.
These include-Anti-platelet drugs, such as aspirin, to prevent clotting, anti-coagulant drugs, cholesterol lowering drugs, and antihypertensive drugs. Some patients may go in for surgical procedures like stenting to clear the clogs and reduce the intensity of the Stroke.
Rehabilitation therapy begins in the emergency care hospital within 24-48 hours after the Stroke, once the patient has stabilized. Rehabilitation of Stroke victims is a difficult and time-consuming task. It helps the Stroke survivors to relearn skills that are lost by brain damage during the Stroke.
It also teaches new skills to make up for any disabilities and to practice and relearn communication, memory, and vocational and physical skills. Commonly people have a surge of recovery in the weeks following the Stroke, followed by a slower recovery in the next year or so.
Stroke can cause five types of disabilities: Paralysis, problems controlling movement, sensory disturbances including pain, problems using or understanding language, and emotional disturbances.
Paralysis is the most common result of Stroke. It causes problems of movement, posture and swallowing. Left-brain damage causes right-limb paralysis. Stroke victims may also experience sensory problems like pain, numbness and loss of feeling. Some may have aphasia, problems using or understanding language. People with Global aphasia may lose all their linguistic abilities.
Stroke can also cause damage to the parts of the brain related to memory, learning and awareness. Some also experience severe emotional trauma involving fear, anxiety, frustration and suicidal thoughts.
During the Rehabilitation process, physicians are responsible for the long-term care of the Stroke survivors, including neurologists who look after acute care and physiatrists who look after the Rehab program. Physical therapists help patients with mobility issues like walking, climbing stairs and maintaining balance. Occupational therapists teach them daily living activities like feeding, grooming and using the toilet. Speech therapists help with language skills and swallowing problems. Rehab nurses care for the patient and educate the family concerning how to care for them. Social workers help Stroke survivors and their families with counseling and community resources.
Stroke is a serious disease, rendering the survivor in a weak and delicate position. The need for aftercare and Rehab is high, as the aftereffects of a Stroke are numerous and interfere with normal life function in an unmanageable way. It is only with the help of this team of doctors, nurses and therapists that the patient can be Rehabilitated.
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